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Full text of "One hundred years of Singapore : being some account of the capital of the Straits Settlements from its foundation by Sir Stamford Raffles on the 6th February 1819 to the 6th February 1919"

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All Rights Reserved 






The Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, by Sir John Rumney 

Nicholson, Kt., C.M.G., formerly Chairman . . i 

Sir John Nicholson, Kt., C.M.G 19 



Commerce and Currency, by C. W. Darbishire, formerly 
Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Member of 
the Legislative Council . . . . . .22 

Opium, Liquor, Farms, and the Monopoly, by the late 

J. R. Brooke 55 

The Opium Commission ....... 58 

Botanic Gardens and Economic Notes, by Dr. Gilbert 

E. Brooke ........ 63 

Mr. Henry Nicholas Ridley, C.M.G., F.R.S. ... 78 

Planting in Singapore, by H. Price .... 79 

Growth of the Rubber Trade, by H. Price ... 84 
Rubber and Rubber Planting, by H. Price ... 88 
Early Planting Days, by Walter Fox, formerly Super- 
intendent Forests and Gardens, Penang ... 91 
The Mineral Oil Trade ...... 97 


By T. A. Melville, of the Straits Settlements Post Office . 102 



By Walter Makepeace 

The Telegraph Co. — Oriental Telephone and Electric 
Co. — ^The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation 
Co., Ltd. — Banking — The Commercial Firms . . 166 



By the Rev. W. Murray, M.A. 


Churches and Missions — The Church of England in 
Singapore — The Catholic Church — The French Mis- 
sion — ThePortuguese Mission — The Armenian Church 
— Presbyterianism in Singapore — The Methodist 
Episcopal Church and Mission — Bethesda — The 
Jewish Synagogue — The Chinese Gospel House . 235 



By Walter Makepeace 

The Press — Literature — Journalism — " Straits Pro- 
duce " — The Press of the Domiciled Community — 
The Straits Settlements Association — The Straits 
Philosophical Society — St. Andrew's Society — The 
British and Foreign Bible Society — The Boustead 
Institute— The Y.M.C.A.— The Y.W.C.A.— The Singa- 
pore Club — The Association of Engineers — The 
Merchant Service Guild — Miscellaneous Associa- 
tions — The Swimming Club — Singapore Yacht Clubs 
— Photographic Society ...... 278 



Introduction — Cricket — Lawn Tennis — Rugby Foot- 
ball — Association Football — Hockey — Lawn 
Bowls — Polo — The Ladies' Lawn Tennis Club — The 
Singapore Golf Club — Racing — Daddy Abrams's 
Last Race — Automobilism — The Singapore Recrea- 
tion Club — Shikar (by G. P. Owen) .... 320 





By Walter Makepeace 


The Reads — The Braddell Family — The Maxwells — The 
Cranes — The Dunmans — The d'Almeidas — The Shel- 


The Scrymgeours — The Ormistons — Sir John Ander- 
son — Charles Burton Buckley — John Fraser — 
Charles Phillips — Miss Sophia Cooke — Sir Henry 
McCallum — Manasseh Meyer — K. B. S. Robertson . 416 



The Good Old Days, by Roland St. J. Braddell . . 465 

Personal Recollections, by Henry Barnaby Leicester . 525 

Awakening Old Memories, by J. H. Drysdale . . 538 

A Mid-Century Diary, by Mrs. G. P. Owen . . . 542 


Singapore's future 
By Alexander W. Still, F.J. I., Editor of the Straits Times . 560 


By Dr. Gilbert E. Brooke ...... 570 

Chronology of Singapore . . . .587 
Index . . . . . . . .611 







BOARD ..... 



THE king's dock .... 















H. M. SIMONS ..... 



R. KER ...... 

W. KER ...... 

J. GRAHAM ..... 

ST. Andrew's cathedral, showing the statue 






















ARNOT REID ......... 29O 

Caricature by R. W, Braddell. 


PRESS " 1887-I916 ....... 292 



*' I won't resign ! ! ! " (thomas shelford, m.l.c.) . . 294 


straits philosophical society dinner .... 302 

the second s.c.c. pavilion ...... 322 

the third s.c.c. pavilion ...... $22 

(sir) e. w. birch ; a. h. capper ..... 326 

Caricatures by R. W. BraddeU. 

THE S.C.C. CRICKET XI, I902 ...... 328 



1893-6, I9OI, AND 1904 332 

Caricatures by R. W. Braddell. 




Caricature by R. W. Braddell. 


Caricature by R. W. Braddell. 

H. ABRAMS ......... 360 


SINGAPORE ........ 364 




Caricatures by R. W. Braddell. 

MRS. SALZMANN . ........ 388 

MRS. MELVILLE SIMONS . . . . . . . 38^ 









ACT OF " here's fun " 


W. H. READ, C.M.G. . 

















flint's buildings 

cavenagh bridge 

orchard road police station, 1880 

messrs. a. l. johnston's premises in the 'seventies 

the s.v.a. drill hall, backs of the post office. singapore 
club, and johnston's pier 

h.h. sultan abubakar of johore, g. c.m.g,, k. c.s.i. 

Vanity Fair Cartoon by R. W. Braddell. 
SINGAPORE, 1846 ...... 







By Sir John Rumney Nicholson, Kt., C.M.G., formerly 


On the nth September 1863 a meeting was held in 
Singapore, at which the following were present : Messrs. 
M. F. Davidson, Chairman ; C. H. Harrison, C. H. H. 
Wilsone, Tan Kim Ching, J. K. Smith, Thos. Scott, 
S. Gilfillan, Syed Abdullah, Pochajee Pestonjee, Wei 
Kow, G. H. Brown, C. Puttfarcken, G. Cramer, Th. 
Wagner, C. P. Lalla, J. Watson, Geo. Lyon, J. Cameron, 
R. Riley, J. Fisher, and Ong Kew Ho. 

On these gentlemen promising to take up shares in 
a company to provide facilities for ship-repairing, Mr. 
Thomas Scott proposed and Mr. S. Gilfillan seconded : 
" That the support the scheme has met with from the 
number of shares applied for warrants expense being 
incurred for plans and estimates for the undertaking." 

Plans and estimates were to be called for by adver- 
tisement in the newspapers for a patent slip and 
graving dock at Tanjong Pagar. 

A Committee was appointed, with Mr. Thomas Scott 
as Secretary, to carry out the necessary arrangements 
and draw up a prospectus. 


The Committee met on the 14th September, and 
resolved that the patent shp be not undertaken, but 
that a graving dock be constructed on Messrs. Guthrie's 
land of the following dimensions : 550 feet in length, 
65 feet width of entrance, 23 feet depth of water on the 
sill. This was a very large dock in those days, and on 
the advice of Messrs. John Baxter, John Clunis, J. L. 
Kirby, and E. M. Smith the Committee reduced the 
width to 51 feet and the depth to 20 feet, and decided 
that the dock be built of wood, with a granite entrance, 
and be divided by gates in the middle. At a subsequent 
meeting of the Committee it was resolved that Mr. 
George Lyon be engaged to carry out the work at a 
remuneration of $200 per month, and Messrs. Baxter 
and Turnbull be asked to advise. A proposal was put 
forward by Mr. Lyon that wharves be built so as to 
combine the business of ship-repairers and wharfingers. 
Friends in England were to be advised of what was 
being done, with a view to their taking an interest in 
the undertaking. Plans and estimates were to be sent 
to England, the Committee expressing the opinion that 
Mr. Lyon's judgment, checked by Messrs. Turnbull and 
Baxter, was quite equal to that of any person from 
England. We have here the expression of an opinion, 
which it is feared lasted to the end of the Company, 
that Singapore could learn nothing from England. A 
plan of a dock was received from London in June 1864, 
and submitted by Colonel Collyer. 

On the 29th September 1864 " The Tanjong Pagar 
Dock Company, Limited," was registered, with a capital 
of $300,000. 

Work on the building of a retaining wall and of a 
piled wharf had been carried on for some time, but as 
the wall had fallen in and other troubles had arisen in 
the construction, it was decided to obtain an engineer 
from England. Mr. W. J. Du Port was engaged, and 
arrived in September 1865, Mr. Lyon resigning, as he 
declined to act under Mr. Du Port. 

New plans for a dock 450 feet long, 6s feet width of 


entrance, and 20 feet depth of water on the sill were 
got out and work commenced. This dock was formally- 
opened, and named the " Victoria Dock," by His Excel- 
lency the Governor, Sir Harry Ord, K.C.B., on the 
17th October 1868, when the Colonial steamers Peiho 
and Rainbow were docked together. 

For some time previous to this ship-repairing had 
been carried out, the ship Moneka, in June 1865, being 
the first, and the bill for $200 was remitted. George 
Hayes, the first shipwright from England, arrived in 
March 1 866. About this time an endeavour to purchase 
or to come to an agreement of amalgamation with the 
Patent Slipway and Dock Company was made, but 
without success. 

At the end of 1866 a wharf 1,440 feet long had been 
almost completed, and during that year thirty-three 
steamers and twenty-eight sailing ships had been berthed 
alongside it. The growth of traffic to town had so 
increased that the Directors proposed to construct a 
road on the same site that Anson Road now runs on, 
and pave it with granite to carry steam traction engines, 
another proposal being to run a railway round Malay 

Although the undertaking seemed on the fair way to 
success, there was considerable difficulty in raising the 
money to complete the dock. An issue of debentures 
at 10 per cent, in 1868 had not been readily taken up. 
Mr. E. M. Smith took charge of the Company's business 
as Manager and Secretary on the ist November 1867, 
retiring from the service on the 30th June 1881. 

In February 1870 we have the first mention of con- 
gested godowns, and it is interesting to note the amount 
of traffic which passed over the wharves in that year : 
coal inward, 24,164 tons ; coal outward, 37,66y tons ; 
total, 61,831 tons. General cargo inward, 54,485 tons ; 
general cargo outward, 28,485 tons ; total, 82,970 tons. 

It was estimated that about 75,000 tons of cargo was 
for the town, and the balance for transhipment at the 


In June 1870 the Bon- Accord Dock was leased by the 
Company, in conjunction with the Patent SHp and Dock 
Company, from Messrs. Buyers and Robb. 

The competition of the Patent SHp & Dock Company 
and the Bon-Accord Dock appears to have been felt, as 
we find the Chairman stating, in his report in August 
1 87 1, " that the dock has not proved remunerative. 
There has been very little business offering as compared 
with former years, and your Directors are not sanguine 
of large returns from this part of the works. The 
employment of steamers in place of sailing vessels, or 
iron in lieu of wood, must render docking all over the 
East less profitable than in former years." 

From the Directors' minutes it appears that a railway 
company was being promoted in Singapore, as an entry 
in May 1871 states that a petition signed is to be sent 
in by the Directors praying the Legislative Council to 
give favourable consideration of the Railway Company's 
claim. The Directors seem to have recognised the value 
of a railway, as in the following year they decided to 
lay a railway, 4 feet 8 J inch gauge, behind the wharves. 
This railway was laid and worked by horses, but did not 
appear to be a success owing to sickness amongst the 
horses. In carrying out the new reconstruction works 
this old railway was come across. 

In the following August, 1872, however, the Chairman 
was able to announce a dividend at the rate of 12 per 
cent, per annum, which indicated the increasing pros- 
perity of the undertaking. No doubt the opening of 
the Suez Canal was having a beneficial result to the 

We have an entry in the minute book on the 
26th October 1873, which sounds somewhat mediaeval: 
" The wat chmen were to be increased, and armed at night 
with cutlasses and rattles." We also note that it was 
considered dangerous to send goods to town by Chinese 
boats. " Watchmen were to be given an occasional half- 
holiday for diligent and good service." It is interesting 
to note prices then : Ballow timber, cut into planks , 


38 cents per cubic foot, and coke from the gas-works, 
$6 per ton delivered. 

On the 30th June 1874 a serious accident to a vessel 
in the dock occurred. The ship England fell over, and 
was considerably damaged, so much so that she 
was purchased by the Company. She was afterwards 
repaired and sold. 

Business seems to have increased in the Dock Depart- 
ment to such an extent that in July 1874 the Board 
recommended the construction of another dock, and an 
engineer, Mr. Parkes, came out from England to deter- 
mine its site and design, Mr. Jackson being engaged as 
the Resident Engineer. The funds of the Company now 
allowed the commencement of a policy which the 
Directors consistently carried out : the purchase of 
adjoining lands. Duxton and Spottiswoode estates 
were bought. 

Passenger traffic to town must have considerably 
increased, as in May 1875 the Directors agreed to allow 
a Mr. Kugelmann to erect a resting-room on the 
premises, and run a service of omnibuses to town 
every fifteen minutes. 

A notable event occurred on the 13th April 1877, 
when a fire broke out in the upper storey of the black- 
smiths' lines, and rapidly spread through other coolie 
lines to the coal sheds, which were in a few minutes 
ablaze. The Government fire-engine and a large number 
of volunteers were soon on the spot, together with 
soldiers and sailors from the men-of-war in harbour. 
Their task seems to have been an arduous one, as the 
fire was not got under control until the 23rd April, 
when practically the whole of the coal not removed 
was burnt or damaged. Up to this time most of the 
coal sheds were attap-roofed, and it would be difficult 
to confine the fire within limits. There would be 
another difficulty in supplying the fire-engine boilers 
with fresh water, as up to this time the request of the 
Directors that the property should be connected to the 
town water supply had been refused. The fire pro- 


bably hastened a change of opinion in the City Fathei^^ 
as the connection was made a- few months afterwards. 
The Company's loss in buildings and expenses in 
extinguishing the fire amounted to $53,209. The 
Insurance Companies' loss must have been a heavy 

The purchase of the Mount Palmer lands was com- 
pleted in 1877, and in the following year the top of 
Mount Palmer was handed over to Government for a 
battery in consideration for which and the purchase 
by the Company of a right of way through Mr. Guthrie's 
property the Government agreed to construct a road 
from Collyer Quay to the docks, now known as Robinson 
and Anson Roads. 

The number of men employed daily at the end of 
1878 was 2,450. 

On the I St May 1879 His Excellency the Adminis- 
trator of the Government, Sir Archibald Edward Anson, 
R.A., K.C.M.G., before the Directors and a large number 
of guests, opened the New Dock, which had been com- 
menced in September 1876, naming it the " Albert 
Dock," the Government yacht Pluto and the Company's 
tug Sunda entering the dock. This dock, which is 
496 feet long, 59 feet width of entrance, with 21 feet 
depth of water on the sill, was not completed without 
trouble. When the dam was removed it was found 
that a drain under the sill connecting the body of the 
dock with the pumping sump for the purpose of keeping 
the dock dry during construction had not been properly 
filled in, thus allowing the sea to flow into the dock. 
After various attempts to close it had proved failures, 
the dam had to be reconstructed, and the drain was then 
effectively closed. 

The question of lighting the wharves and docks had 
often been considered by the Board, and various methods 
proposed and experimented with. A limelight appara- 
tus had been tried, afterwards purchased by Mr. C. B. 
Buckley. Electric light was first installed in the work- 
shops in 1878. 

•a. 6T 

The Present Chairman, Singapore Harbour Board. 


Keen competition existed between the Tanjong 
Pagar Dock Company and the New Harbour Dock 
Company as regards ship-repairing, although the com- 
panies worked amicably together in many ways, being 
joint owners of tugs and other interests. An agree- 
ment, known as the " Joint Purse Agreement," was 
made between the two companies, and came into 
operation on the ist July 1881, whereby the two com- 
panies received a fixed percentage on the profits of 
their dock work. 

In 1 88 1 the Directors considered the dredging out 
of the lagoon behind the wharves (site of Empire Dock) 
and making a canal to town, the existing coal-sheds 
to be used as godowns. 

In 1 88 1 also a proposal was put forward by the 
large shareholders in England that they should be 
represented by a Board in London. This matured in 
1883, when a number of gentlemen, who had when in 
Singapore been directors, were appointed as the " Lon- 
don Consulting Committee." With the view of develop- 
ing the Company's property, the Engineer-in-Chief to 
the Chinese Government, Mr. D. M. Henderson, was 
asked in 1882 to advise, but as he was unable to visit 
Singapore, it was decided to get a competent engineer 
from England to report. Mr. Du Port, who was asked, 
not being able to visit Singapore, Captain McCallum 
(now Sir Henry) made certain recommendations for a 
new dock and wharf extension to the eastward, also 
the deepening of the Victoria Dock. 

In 1 884, the Municipality having raised the assessment 
on the Company's property, the matter was taken to 
the Courts, and settled by the Appeal Court upholding 
the Chief Justice's decision in favour of the Company. 

In December of that year application was made to 
the Board for the storage of Japanese coal at the 
wharves. This was at first refused, but afterwards 
granted somewhat tardily, and with many restrictions. 
The Board, believing Japanese coal to be very liable to 
spontaneous combustion, their cautious action can very 
II — 2 


well be understood with the memory of the great fire 
before them. 

In April 1885 the London Consulting Committee 
advised the Board that the time had arrived when a 
large dock, capable of taking in modern warships, should 
be constructed with Government assistance. This is 
the first mention of what for many years was spoken of 
as the " Admiralty Dock Scheme," upon which Sir John 
Coode reported, proposing a site between Jardine's 
wharf and St. James. 

The Borneo Company's wharf and property were pur- 
chased by the Company, as from the ist July 1885, for 
$1,000,000, and the Manager reported that the wharf 
connecting the two properties was completed in Novem- 
ber of that year. 

On the I St July 1886 the London Agency of the 
Board was established. We have the first mention of 
what was to be the Straits Trading Company on the 
8th July 1887, when the Directors decided to lease part 
of the Bon-Accord property (purchased in 1882) to 
Messrs. Sword and Muhlinghaus. 

At the beginning of 1889 the Tanjong Pagar octopus 
laid one of its tentacles on the Slipway Company at 
Tanjong Rhu by commencing to buy its shares, and 
shortly after another one on Prye Dock, Penang, by 
leasing that property in conjunction with the New 
Harbour Company. 

The Trustees of the late Mr. Edward Boustead having 
offered to build the " Boustead Institute," the Directors 
not having a suitable site on their own property, pur- 
chased the site on which the building now stands, and 
handed it over to the Trustees in April 1891. 

The Singapore Tramway Company, whose lines had 
been laid down in 1884, not having proved a success, 
the Directors were approached as to the purchase of its 
Collyer Quay to the Docks Section, which the Directors 
did not entertain ; but in December 1889 they purchased 
the whole undertaking for $186,000 on joint account 
with the New Harbour Dock Company. 


A proposal in 1891 to form a Volunteer Company 
amongst the European employees of the Company for 
the defence of the Company's property did not mature, 
the men being of opinion that to be efficient too much 
of their rest time would be taken up, which after their 
arduous duties during the day in the sun was a ne- 

The tramways proving unremunerative, it was decided 
to cease running the Rochore Section at the end of 
1892. The competition of the rikishas proving keen, 
the expense of upkeep of rolling stock and permanent 
way being heavy, electrical traction had been considered, 
but not found to be sufficiently attractive to warrant 
further expenditure. The Collyer Quay and Keppel 
Harbour Section was kept running, as it was considered 
of some use in facilitating the transport of goods to 
town, until the ist June 1894, when the whole service 
was discontinued, and the rolling stock and plant 
disposed of. 

In April 1894 the Directors, being urged by several 
of their largest shippers, started a lighterage depart- 
ment, which has ever since proved a very unremunera- 
tive branch of the undertaking. It was handicapped at 
the start by several of the lighters being old, the repairs 
were heavy and have always absorbed any profits that 
the working accounts show and a great deal more. 
The department has been continued by the present 
Board as an adjunct to the port's facilities, but it is a 
very questionable policy. 

The electric light was extended to the wharf in 1897, 
much to the benefit of working vessels. 

In September 1897 plans and specifications were sub- 
mitted by Mr. J. E. Tuik and Mr. Hartwig for a large new 
graving dock, estimated to cost ;^305 ,000. It was decided 
to ask the Admiralty to contribute 85 per cent, of the 
cost. The site proposed was to the west of the Victoria 
Dock, afterwards changed to the east of the Albert 
Dock. Negotiations were opened with the Admiralty, 
and continued until 1899, when no agreement was 


arrived at, the Company's proposals not being accept- 
able to the Admiralty. 

At the general meeting held on the 28th February 
1899 a proposal was laid before the shareholders, that 
as the value of the Company's assets was greatly in 
excess of the nominal capital, a new Company, registered 
under the same name as the old Company, be formed to 
take over the property, at a price of $3,000,000, as from 
the I St January 1899. This was unanimously approved 
of and carried out, the shareholders of the old Company 
receiving two shares in the new Company in respect of 
every share held in the old Company. 

In 1900 the Company completed the purchase of 
practically all the land known as the " East Reclama- 
tion " from the liquidators of the Tanjong Pagar Land 
Company, who had reclaimed this area by depositing 
the spoil from the land near Mount Palmer during the 
construction of Anson Road. 

Although the joint purse arrangement between the 
Company and the New Harbour Dock Company had 
worked for years without trouble, it was decided to 
purchase the New Harbour Dock Company (it has 
been called an amalgamation, but purchase is a more 
correct definition of the arrangement), whereby the New 
Harbour Dock Company received 7,000 $100 paid-up 
shares of the Company and $1,050,000 5 per cent, 
five-year debentures ; also $50,000 for expenses. The 
purchase was as from the ist July 1899. 

The Prye Dock property was purchased as from the 
I St January 1899, there being an option in the lease 
allowing of this. 

During 1899 the lack of facilities to deal with the 
increased trade of the port exercised the mind of the 
Directors, and schemes of extension were again con- 
sidered ; the dredging of the lagoon behind the main 
wharf and building wharves there was considered pre- 
ferable to an extension to the eastward. An engineer 
was asked for from London to report, and early in 1900 
Mr. Edward Manisty arrived in Singapore (in January), 


and was asked to advise as to an extension of 8,000 feet 
of wharfage. 

The New Harbour Dock Company having previously 
commenced to excavate a dock on the site of " Clough- 
ton's Hole " (the old original mud dock), it was decided 
to complete it, the dock to be of the following dimen- 
sions : length 500 feet, width of entrance 65 feet, and 
depth on the sill 35 feet H.W.O.S.T. This work was 
afterwards abandoned, and the excavation was filled in. 
The shipbuilding sheds now occupy the site. 

At the end of 1900 the Board again decided to ask 
London to send out an engineer to advise as to mechani- 
cal appliances for handling cargo. Mr. Thomas Scott 
resigned the Chairmanship of the Board on the 2nd May 
1 90 1, on retiring from Singapore ; unfortunately his 
time of leisure, after many years of strenuous work, 
was short, as he died at Brechin on the 28th June 

In December 1901 the head offices were removed 
from Collyer Quay to the new building at Tanjong 
Pagar. The first meeting of the Board was held in the 
new offices on the 27th December 1901. 

During the 'Nineties it became very evident that the 
shipping facilities at Tanjong Pagar were totally 
inadequate to meet the growing requirements. From 
time to time various schemes were evolved to remedy 
matters. There existed a chronic state of congested 
godowns, consignees not being able to obtain delivery 
of their cargoes. A similar block of the roads existed 
behind the godowns, as all cargo to town or for tran- 
shipment had to be moved by bullock-carts, often leading 
to perfect chaos. Proposals to extend to the east 
alternated with the idea of dredging behind the wharves 
like the pendulum of a clock. Mr. Manisty's eastern 
scheme was replaced by the Dock Manager's proposals, 
for which a dredger was ordered, but before its delivery 
the scheme had changed to an eastern one again, on 
which the dredger was put to work in material for 
which it had not been built and was totally unfitted to 


deal with. For this vacillating policy the difference of 
opinion between the Singapore and the London Con- 
sulting Committee may have been somewhat responsible ; 
the former wanted relief as soon as possible, the latter 
required a definite scheme which would allow of gradual 
extension and of a permanent construction. Mr. 
Manisty recommended a scheme of wharves to the east- 
ward providing for 10,500 linear feet of wharfage at an 
estimated cost of ;£i,oi 7,000. He also recommended 
the construction of a large graving dock. 

After the retirement of Mr. Scott it was decided to 
appoint a Managing Director. Mr. George Rutherford 
arrived in Singapore on the 13th February 1902 to take 
up the appointment. His time was all too short to 
make his high quahties and ability felt, as he was 
murdered by burglars in his residence on the loth April 

Mr. Nicholson arrived on the nth January 1903 as 
Managing Director. His principal instructions received 
from the London Committee were to draw up a scheme 
of extension which would be the basis of development. 

In order to become familiar with the requirements of 
the port he did not issue his report until January 1904. 
The scheme advocated in the report was the construc- 
tion of a dock in the lagoon behind the wharves, the 
reconstruction of the wharves, and the construction 
of a graving dock, involving an estimated expenditure 
of $12,078,153. This report brought the differences 
between the Board of Directors and the London Com- 
mittee to a head. The scheme being adopted by the 
Board, the Chairman advocated the issue of the report 
to the shareholders immediately ; but the London 
Committee were of opinion that as it involved a very 
large expenditure, it should not be issued unless accom- 
panied by a scheme showing how the money was to be 
raised. On this difference of opinion the Chairman 
resigned. The Government had been approached for 
a loan, and the outcome of this was that before taking 
any further action the Colonial Office referred the scheme 


to their Consulting Engineers, Messrs. Coode, Son and 
Matthews. This reference resulted in Mr. Nicholson 
proceeding to England, and in conjunction with Messrs. 
Coode, Son and Matthews a joint report was issued in 
October 1904, embracing the first report in its main 
features. The estimated expenditure for the work 
was : wet dock, ;^790,ooo ; reconstruction of wharves, 
£740,000; total, ;^i, 530,000. A separate estimate was 
made for the graving dock, the time of completion 
being fifteen years. 

On the I St October 1904 a conference took place 
in London between officials of the Colonial Office and 
members of the London Committee on the question of 
carrying out the works proposed in the above report, 
and at their meeting we had the first mention of the 
word " expropriation," should the Company not take 
definite steps to provide increased facilities. 

Matters now moved rapidly. On the 21st December 
1904 a telegram was received in Singapore from the 
London Committee stating that they had been notified 
by the Colonial Office that Government had decided to 
expropriate the Company's property, and that faihng a 
settlement the value would be decided by arbitration. 

On the 17th January 1905 an interview took place 
between His Excellency the Governor, Sir John Ander- 
son, K.C.M.G., and three of the Directors, Messrs. 
Waddell, Shelford, and Nicholson, when His Excellency 
proposed $240 per share as a fair price. The Directors 
suggested $700 per share as nearer the value. The 
shares then stood in the market about $230. 

The Ordinance to expropriate passed the Legislative 
Council on the 7th April 1905. As no satisfactory 
agreement was arrived at as to the value, arbitrators 
were appointed : Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, P.C, M.P., 
Umpire ; Sir Edward Boyle, Bart., K.C., Arbitrator for 
the Company ; James Charles IngHs, Esq., Arbitrator 
for the Government. Lord Robert Cecil, K.C., was the 
leading Counsel for the Company, and Mr. Balfour 
Browne, K.C., the leading Counsel for Government. 


The Court sat in Singapore from the i6th to 
the 26th October 1905. The Umpire issued his award 
on the 4th July 1906, giving a sum which, after all 
liquidation expenses were paid, amounted to %y6i.y6 
per share. 

A contract was made on the loth February 1908 with 
Messrs. John Aird and Co., of London, to construct the 
wet dock and reconstruct the main wharves, as re- 
commended in the report referred to, for the sum of 
;^998,700. The wet dock was to be completed within 
two years and the wharf in four years, the Engineers' 
(Messrs. Coode, Son and Matthews) and Mr J. R. Nichol- 
son's estimate for the work being ;^i, 5 18,000. This 
dock, 879 feet long, was opened by His Excellency the 
Governor, Sir Arthur Young, K.C.M.G., and named the 
King's Dock, on the 26th August 191 3. Another con- 
tract was made, on the ist January 1909, with Messrs. 
Topham, Jones and Railton, for the construction of a 
large graving dock for the sum of ;^342,794, to be com- 
pleted in three years. Towards the end of 1909 the 
contractors for the wet dock, Messrs. John Aird and Co., 
raised difficulties as to their contract, alleging that it 
was a physical impossibility to carry out some of the 
walls in trenches, and consequently stopped work on 
them. After prolonged negotiation, endeavouring to 
get the Contractors to proceed with the work, a demand 
for arbitration under the contract was served by the 
Board on the Contractors in October 19 10. An action 
was brought in London by the Contractors, and com- 
menced on the 30th January 191 1, to stay arbitration 
proceedings, during which they charged the Engineers 
with misrepresentation in the drawings, and it became 
evident that they did not intend to proceed with the 
contract, and thereupon the Board determined it, and 
the action was directed to stand over. The hearing was 
reopened on the 28th October, and lasted to the 20th 
December 191 2. 

The Interlocutory Judgment was delivered by Mr. 
Justice Parker on the 20th December 191 2, and com- 



pletely exonerated the Engineers from any misrepre- 
sentation. As long as the Contractors persisted in their 
charge of fraud it was impossible to enter into nego- 
tiation with them, and on the judgment being given a 
settlement of their claim was arrived at by consultation 
between Mr. Thomas Cuthbertson, Mr. Malcolm Aird, 
and Mr. J. R. Nicholson. 

The Board having seized the Contractors' plant as a 
result of the decision to cancel the contract, carried on 
the work themselves until a new contract was made, on 
the 6th June 191 1, with Messrs. Topham, Jones and 
Railton, who successfully completed the whole of the 

The first ship to enter the new dock was the s.s. 
Valdura, on the 2nd June 19 14. His Excellency the 
Governor, Sir Arthur Young, G.C.M.G., on the 25th 
October 191 7, named the new dock the Empire Dock, 
in commemoration of the completion of the whole 
scheme, including the dock and the reconstruction 
of the wharves, the final certificate for payment to the 
Contractors having been signed on the 24th May 191 7, 
Empire Day. 

It is interesting to note the early payments of the 
Company. The minutes of the i8th December 1867 
say : 

" The following statement of the employees of the 
Company and their salaries was examined. 

Mr. E. M. Smith . 

Mr. W. J. Du Port, ; per 

of exchange 
Mr. R. H. Smith . 
Mr. Hughes 
Mr. P. Reutens . 
Keat, Chinese clerk 
Achong, foreman carpenter 
„ „ blacksmith 

Ferry, engine-driver 
Tone, engine-driver 
Achong, machine . 
Likman, machine 

. $400 
annum at current rate 














Friday, machine .... 

. $IO 



Ahque. coppersmith 


Aheng, fireman .... 


Ah Seh, fireman .... 


Beng Sue, fireman 


John Arrais, apprentice syce 


I head syce .... 


4 syces @ $5 • 


2 grass-cutters .... 


Pencharee, Mandore 


Tay, 2nd Mandore 



Mr. Wells .... 

2 Chinese clerks at |20 each 
I Chinese clerk 

3 godown coohes @ $8 each 
6 wharf coolies @ $6 each . 

4 Malay coolies @ $6 each . 

1 Serang (Dolay) 

2 engine-drivers @ I9 and $7 
Firemen .... 
2 watermen 


Mr. G. Ridings . 

Mr. P. P. W. Oliveiro . 

2 messengers @ $5 and I4 












On every ton of cargo landed or shipped 

over the wharf . . . . -25 cents 

On every ton of general cargo taken on 
board from lighters while alongside the 

wharf 12J „ 

On treasure ...... 2^ 

On opium per chest . . . " .10 

On horses and cattle, each . • '25 


per cent. 



Store rent on coal is 4 cents per ton per month. Coal is stored, with 
ventilators through the heaps, in sheds of small width. 

Coolie hire discharging coal ships is charged for at the rate of 12 J cents 
per ton, and storing, i2| cents per ton. Removing from sheds and putting 
on board ships, 25 cents per ton. 

Steamers requiring great despatch can be supplied with coolies at 50 
cents per day and 75 cents per night for working general cargo. 

The Company is open to make special arrangements with consignees of 
coal to rent their sheds at a monthly fixed charge. 

Coal stowed by the Company is not covered by insurance. 

The list of Managers is : 

G. Lyon, 4th February 1864 to 30th October 1865, 

1 year 9 months. 

C. H. H. Wilsone, Secretary and General Business 
Manager, 29th July 1865 to ist November 1867, 

2 years 3 months. 

E. M. Smith, ist November 1867 to 30th June 1881, 

13 years 7 months. 
J. Blair, ist July 1882 to 30th April 1896, 13 years 

9 months. 
W. M. Robertson, ist May 1896 to ist May 1898, 

2 years. 
W. E. Moulsdale, i8th June 1898 to 6th April 1900, 

I year 9J months. 
J. Sellar, 14th November 1900 to 12th May 1907, 

6 years 7 months. 
G. Rutherford, 13th February 1902 to loth April 

1902, 2 months. 
J. R. Nicholson, C.M.G., 12th January 1903 to 
30th April 191 8, 15 years 4 months. 
The list of Chairmen of the Company shows how much 
Mr. T. Scott had to do with the concern. He was in 
office 1865, 1867-72, 1881-3, 1884-5, 1888, 1895-6, 
1898, and 1900. Mr. J. Finlayson's years were 1883-4, 
1887, 1889, 1890-94, 1895, while his partner, Mr. J. R. 
Cuthbertson, four times filled the chair. In continuous 
service Mr. J. R. Nicholson easily comes first, 1904-18, 
with a very short interval when Mr. W. P. Waddell 
was Chairman in 1905. 






Rate of 


Dividend per annum. 


Paid up. 

1865 . 
































































































































































1897 . 





7% plus $2 bonus 
7% plus $3 bonus 

1898 . 





7% plus |3 bonus 

1899 . 





A'-' /o 

1900 . 





I901 . 





1902 . 





6% plus $1 bonus 
6% plus $1 bonus 











6% June half-year 


20% Deer, half-year 

Harbour Improvements 

A report dated the loth December 1901 was made 
by Messrs. Coode, Son and Matthews on Harbour Im- 


provement at Singapore. It recommended the con- 
struction of breakwaters totalling 13,030 feet in length 
enclosing the harbour, and having three openings. 
These breakwaters were afterwards struck out of the 
scheme, and an inner breakwater 5,650 feet long con- 
structed to protect the wharves at Teluk Ayer recom- 
mended to be constructed in the report. A contract 
was let, on the 9th May 1907, to Sir John Jackson, 
Limited, to construct some of the works recommended 
in the report. 

The wharf at Teluk Ayer was originally to be 4,990 feet 
long, but as the work progressed it was found that near 
the centre the depth of mud was so great that there 
was difficulty in carrying out the cylinder sinking, and 
as the result of a Committee of Engineers in London 
reporting in March 191 1, 850 feet of wharf was left out, 
and so formed an entrance to the tidal basin proposed 
by the Committee to be constructed behind the wharf. 

During 191 7 an embankment was constructed, 
carrying a road 36 feet wide, also a railway across the 
bay between the East Reclamation and the Teluk Ayer 
wharves, thus connecting them with the Tanjong Pagar 
and the Federated Malay States railway system. 

Plans have been got out and estimates obtained for 
the construction of a wharf between the King's Dock 
entrance and the P. and O. Co.'s property. This wharf 
it is proposed to fit with mechanical conveyors for the 
rapid handling of coal, but owing to the circumstances 
brought about by the War the construction has been 


Mr. John Rumney Nicholson (as Singapore knew 
him) is from Cumberland, with all the force of character 
of a fell man. He was born at Langwathby, Cumber- 
land, went to school at St. Bees, and from there to the 
College of Science, Newcastle. Having served his term in 
the works of Black, Hawthorn and Co., of Gateshead, he 
became Resident Engineer of the Newcastle Electric 


Supply Company when he was twenty-two years of age. 
He then had a spell of five years on the Quebrada and 
South- Western Railway, Venezuela, where he learned 
Spanish, and incidentally a good deal about the handhngof 
men other than British. Back again home in 1 895 , he was 
Resident Engineer of the Port Talbot Dockfor three years, 
after which he became Chief Engineer to the important 
Bridgewater Trust. He came to Singapore as Managing 
Director of Tanjong Pagar Dock Company in 1902, then 
became Chairman, and when the Singapore Harbour 
Board was formed he was appointed Chairman and Chief 
Engineer, holding the post of Chairman for over fifteen 
years. From the time he began to study the port with 
an eye to its requirements, on his arrival, there has been 
no more strenuous worker. His first report involved 
works needing an expenditure of over twelve million 
dollars, and on action which was to be taken in this 
matter the then Chairman resigned. Mr. Nicholson 
proceeded to London for consultation with the Colonial 
Office engineers, Messrs. Coode, Son and Matthews, and 
a joint report was issued in 1904. The expropriation of 
the concern took some time, during which the Engineer- 
in-chief was perfecting his plans, all the while he was 
carrying on the work of the port and advising the Govern- 
ment. It was not till 1908 that construction of the 
Empire Dock was commenced, and in less than two years 
afterwards began the troublesome and difficult task of 
setthng the difficulties with Messrs. John Aird and Co., 
the Contractors. The work on the dock was not stopped, 
and this naturally meant more work for the Chief 
Engineer and the resident staff. But " dogged does it," 
and Mr. Nicholson carried through his schemes success- 
fully in less than the time at first estimated, and when 
he retired in 191 8 he could look round with pride on his 
work, which is going to stand for a long time, and disprove 
many of the criticisms directed against it. 

The man who could carry out this great work was 
bound to meet with criticism, and it required a vast 
amount of self-control not to suggest that the critics 


II. 20l 


did not know what they were talking about. " J. R." 
may not always have succeeded in keeping his patience ; 
but harm seldom comes from knowing what one wants 
done, and then going straight to do it, especially 
when the result proves so satisfactory, as in the case of 
his work. Although conversant with every detail of 
what was going on, the Chief Engineer liked to have a 
clear desk, as he said it wasn't his duty to tell others 
what they had to do (though he did). He also had a 
somewhat rare quality for an engineer, a keen commer- 
cial instinct. The business of the engineer is often said 
to be " common sense applied to matter." And few 
engineers will admit that a job is impossible if you are 
prepared to spend the necessary money on it. Mr. 
Nicholson has the " common sense " applied to matter 
and also the less common sense of knowing whether 
a work was worth doing from a commercial point of 
view. This may have been the result of the double 
training he had, as a member of the Institute of Civil 
Engineers and also of the Institute of Mechanical 
Engineers. Mr. Nicholson was created a Companion of 
the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 19 14, and 
was presented with his insignia in the Council Chamber. 
His strenuous work through the War will always be 
remembered, and it was rather characteristic of him 
that in the mutiny he was one of the first to be sworn in 
as a special constable, and took his turn of duty with the 
rest. Mrs. Nicholson, who is a daughter of the late 
Sir Herbert Croft, Bart., resided almost continuously 
in Singapore with her husband, and there were few 
pleasanter houses to visit than Holme Chase, where they 
lived. She was as unstinting in her work for Singapore 
as was her husband, and among other good work she 
helped in the foundation of the Union Jack Club. She 
was made a member of the Order of the British Empire 
for her services during the War. 

The Birthday Honours Hst of 1919 contained the 
name of " Mr. John Rumney Nicholson, C.M.G., to be 
a Knight Bachelor." 




By C. W. Darbishire, formerly Chairman of the Chamber of 
Commerce and Member of the Legislative Council. 


Visit any Malay village on the coast of Singapore, say 
Pasir Panjang or Bedok, and you have a very good idea 
of what the port of Singapore was like a hundred years 
ago — a group of primitive huts upon the shore, a few 
fishermen with their boats and tackle. True, it was the 
seat of the Tumunggong, a higher official than the usual 
village headman, but his residence was by no means 
an imposing one. Of commerce, in the ordinary sense 
of the word, there was none. 

It was Sir Stamford Raffles who first saw the enormous 
possibilities lying in the heart of that little Malay village. 
He dreamed of a great port to rival those of the Dutch, 
of a world-wide trade, of a gateway for the British 
Empire ; and, with what seems like the touch of a 
magician's wand, his dream came true. Refer to any 
of the records of those who touched at Singapore in the 
first years of its existence, and one cannot but be struck 
by its extraordinarily sudden and rapid development, and 
the great attraction which the place was soon to have 
for traders from all parts of the Eastern Archipelago, 
turning it, in the course of a few years, into a thriving 
and prosperous port. 

Before the founding of Singapore the only British 
centres in this part of the world were Penang and 


n. 22] 


Bencoolen. The Dutch controlled the ways to China 
and Japan through the Straits of Malacca and the Straits 
of Sunda ; they headed us off at Malacca and Batavia ; 
in fact, the whole archipelago was practically in their 
hands. A short-sighted British Government had been 
responsible for Holland's supremacy in these Eastern 
waters ; but, nothing daunted, Raffles was determined 
upon a last great effort to gain for England a firm footing 
in the Far East. 

The British Settlement at Singapore filled a long-felt 
want, though there were few then in authority who 
recognised this, or fully reahsed its importance. Raffles, 
who had made the study of Eastern politics and trade 
his lifework, alone understood what was required ; he 
knew that, to use his own words, " we must set up shop 
next to the Dutch," and that Singapore was the place 
in which to do it. 

There had been other places in the mind of Raffles 
before he decided on Singapore for the fulfilment of his 
purpose ; he writes of Simangka Bay, for instance, as 
an entrepot to rival Batavia, and also of the importance 
of Rhio on the island of Bintang. But eventually it 
was Singapore that was decided upon, in spite of con- 
siderable opposition. Bengal and London were doubtful, 
while the Government of Penang was of opinion that the 
time had passed for obtaining a station to the eastward, 
and that the interests of Penang Island would be en- 

The opposition he received would have disheartened 
most men, but Raffles was no ordinary man. It was 
in the midst of this discouragement that we find him 
writing on the 31st January 1819: ** If I am deserted 
now, I must fain return to Bencoolen and become phi- 
losopher." He was not actually deserted, but he got no 
support ; he was practically left to work out his theories, 
and to stand or fall by the results. The British Govern- 
ment's hands, however, were soon forced by the phe- 
nomenal success of this great man's stroke of genius. 

In the first year we find merchants collecting fast. 



According to Farquhar, " nothing could exceed the 
rising trade and general prosperity of the infant Colony ; 
it was already one of the first ports of the East." We 
are fortunate in having more than one narrative to 
which we can refer in our quest for some idea of the aspect 
of the port and of the conditions of its trade in those 
early days. We find a chorus of wonder and admiration ; 
one and all, these writers marvel at the busy scene in the 
harbour and at the still greater stir and bustle which 
confronted one on landing at one of the quays in the 
river mouth. Farquhar tells us that merchants of all 
descriptions were " congregating here fast," and that 
their one complaint was the lack of more ground to build 
upon. During the first two and a half years, 2,889 
vessels entered and cleared from the port, 383 being 
owned and commanded by Europeans. In 1820 the 
town was rising most rapidly in importance and wealth ; 
it was already, according to its enthusiastic founder, 
" a great and flourishing city." Raffles goes on to tell 
us that it continued to rise as rapidly as the out-stations 
of the Dutch declined ; and there are other witnesses 
to the damage done to Dutch trade — at that time 
hampered by innumerable duties and restrictions — by 
the opening of the great free port of Singapore. 

The neighbouring Dutch port of Rhio lapsed into a 
somnolent state ; even the 40,000 Chinese on the island 
of Bintang, where Rhio lies, planters of pepper and 
gambler, shipped the greater part of their produce from 
the northern part of the island to Singapore : they 
preferred the free port of Singapore to seUing to the 
Dutch, and they would not visit Rhio because there were 
no enterprising merchants there. In 1833 Earl tells 
us that there was no longer any appearance of commercial 
activity at Rhio ; he saw but one solitary ship lying at 
anchor near the town, not a soul stirring on board, and 
the long wooden jetty occupied only by the native crew 
of a Dutch war prahu, lazily mending their sails. In 
Singapore everything was different ; even the gaol, we 
are told, was a strong and cheerful-looking building, 


though it had the misfortune to be situated in a 

To " the magic of free trade " was what Raffles 
attributed the unprecedented success of his venture. 
But for the first few years he was troubled lest all his 
work might be in vain ; there was still opposition from 
home, from India and from Penang. The East India 
Company, with monopoly bred in their very bones, could 
not tolerate the free and open-handed way in which 
Singapore invited all to its shores. Nevertheless, the 
Colony steadily grew, its trade increased, in spite of 
opposition and jealousy. " Considering all the disad- 
vantages under which Singapore has been placed," 
Raffles writes, " the want of confidence in its retention 
even for a month, the opposition of the English Settle- 
ment of Penang and of the Dutch, a stronger proof of its 
commercial importance could hardly be afforded." 

We can see him in those dark days, though fretting 
and tortured with doubt, his indomitable soul aglow 
with hope, penning the lines which follow : " What 
may we not expect hereafter when the British merchant 
has fair play for his industry and speculation ? " The 
British merchant did not disappoint him. The East 
India Company's monopoly of the Indian trade had been 
broken in 18 14, the public was interested and excited, 
and there was powerful mercantile feeling in favour 
of Raffles. It is recorded authoritatively that '' it 
was most probably to the mercantile interest excited in 
favour of Singapore that we are indebted for its 

Raffles had his way; in 1822 the Settlement was 
recognised by Great Britain, and in 1824 Holland 
acknowledged by treaty the British right to the island. 
From that day to this Singapore has never looked back ; 
there have been ups and downs in trade, due more to 
commercial crises or panics in other quarters of the globe 
rather than to any weakness or lack of enterprise in this ; 
nevertheless, Singapore has risen above them, and held 
on its way triumphant. 


It was to Raffles, with his breadth of vision, that the 
initial, the irresistible impetus was due. The merchant, 
so he insisted, was to have fair play for his industry and 
speculation ; no taxes on trade or industry were to 
check the rise and prosperity of the Settlement. He was 
alone, unfortunately. We see him surrounded by his 
bureaucratic underhngs ; he leaves the Colony for a few 
months, only to discover, on his return, his lieutenant 
steeped in the East India Company's tradition. It was 
after one of these disappointments that we find Raffles 
complaining that he was " remodelling everything and 
no one to put in charge." There was, indeed, no one 
his peer ; no one with his discernment ; no one who knew 
why Singapore was Singapore — a great emporium with 
doors thrown open to trade from every .quarter of the 
globe. And so it must for ever remain, if its great 
founder's charter of freedom be kept sacred. 

Luckily the early merchants were quick to draw in 
his teaching. As the Pilgrim Fathers fled from the 
intolerance of the Old World to seek a new and freer one, 
so we find merchants from lands where their operations 
were trammelled and hampered, where they were 
hedged around with duties and restrictions, " congre- 
gating here fast." The earliest records, and those writ- 
ten later in the century, present to us a picture of the 
sturdy, independent merchant, insistent upon his rights, 
ready to strike out at any attempt on the part of Govern- 
ment to curtail his privileges or to interfere with the 
freedom of the port. 


What were the conditions of trade in those first years ? 
Trade centred round the river ; vessels anchored as near 
its mouth as possible, and the bulk of the commerce 
of the place was done over Boat Quay. Collyer Quay 
was not finished till 1864, and up to that date the backs 
of the houses on that side of Raffles Square abutted on 
the open sands of the roads. Before the advent of 
steamers trade was largely seasonal, the arrival of 


junks depending upon the favourable monsoon winds. 
From China, Siam, and the Celebes, the north-east mon- 
soon carried fleets of junks, which returned when the 
winds veered round to the south-west. There is a 
description of the junks from China with their rudders 
up, looking like shops, with samples hanging about in 
all directions. They brought tea, raw silk, camphor, 
earthenware, etc. Then, as now, the Chinese were the 
middlemen, the backbone of our trade. They took over 
the cargoes from the junks on arrival, and, in exchange, 
loaded the vessels with the manufactures of the more 
civilised world, together with pepper, birds' nests, and 
other produce of the Archipelago. The most important 
trade was, at first, with China. Though the actual 
monopoly of Indian trade was broken before the founding 
of Singapore, the trade with China, and the tea trade 
•generally, was, up till 1834, still confined to the East 
India Company. Singapore therefore offered attractive 
opportunities for dealing in the products of China ; 
here transhipment could be effected, and the sole 
surviving monopoly of the East India Company thus 
avoided. When the tea trade was freed from monopoly, 
the custom of using Singapore as a transhipment port 
between China and Great Britain resulted in a certain 
amount of this tea trade coming our way. We read of 
the first chest of tea being saluted with some ceremony 
in Singapore, when, on the 22nd April 1834, the old 
Charter of the East India Company expired. Over 
6,000 chests were brought by junks that season. Lack 
of experience, or adulteration (a practice to be guarded 
against even in these days), sometimes led to unpleasant 
scenes at the auctions in London. Of one parcel it was 
said that " not a single particle of tea was in the goods, 
it was rubbish ! poison ! and the objectionable article 
was withdrawn." Taken as a whole, however, the 
Singapore shipments were of good quality ; but the tea 
trade soon died out as direct shipment from China took 
its place. 
The trade from the Celebes was of considerable im- 


portance in those early days. It was conducted by the 
Bugis, who were described by one writer as being the 
carriers of the Malay Archipelago. Their fleets arrived 
in October and November, bringing to us spices, coffee, 
gold dust, etc., and returning with iron, opium, steel, 
cottons, gold thread, and other articles. In very early 
days the Bugis imported slaves, and not only sold them 
at the river-side, close to the Resident's house, but, in 
order to ingratiate themselves with Raffles and the 
Resident, and to induce them to countenance the trade, 
they offered them presents of these human goods 1 

From Siam and Cochin-China came junks with sugar 
and rice during the north-east monsoon, returning 
later with their cargoes of Western and Indian wares. 
We read of a large trade with Calcutta, our imports 
being chiefly wheat, opium, and raw cotton, and our 
exports gold dust, tin, pepper, gambier, and treasure. 

Thousands of ships from the surrounding countries 
continually entered the harbour ; among them were 
Arab ships from Java, flying the Dutch flag, and a varied 
assortment of smaller coasting craft. One early writer 
tells of the stir and life which this commerce with nearly 
all the nations of the East created, and already he pro- 
phesies that Singapore will surpass, both in wealth and 
importance, most of the old-established marts of the 
world. The trade with Europe developed slowly but 
steadily, and the number of '* square-rigged vessels " 
visiting the port was soon considerable. Most of them 
touched here on their way to and from China. In 
those days the Captain and members of the crew had some 
interest in the trading of their ships, whether junks or 
square-rigged vessels, either by being allowed to trade 
on their own account to a certain extent, or by having 
some share of the space in the ship allotted to them. 
There is in Duncan's diary, in 1824, an instance of this 
custom being taken advantage of by an artful Singapore 
merchant. The story runs as follows : 

" We have shipped by the good ship . . . thirty 
chests Persian opium to Canton, hoping to get it disposed 


of before the news of its fall in Calcutta gets wind at 
Canton, and as the supercargo of the brig is a speculator 
in Turkish opium to a considerable amount himself and 
carries no letters, or only conditionally to deliver them 
when there can be no detriment to his own views, and 
being, too, the first vessel that has gone to that place, 
there is a probability, if there is a market for opium at 
all, it may turn out a losing concern. But at the same 
time there is a great risk, as accidents may occur and 
numerous vessels are on his heels." 

Later on in the diary it is recorded that the news of 
this deal " was not agreeable," and it is to be feared that 
an accident did occur, or it may be that the supercargo 
was even a little more artful than our merchant friend. 

As an entrepot, Singapore was soon supreme ; but 
attempts were also made to establish local industries 
and agriculture. The art of manufacturing pearl sago 
(said to have been invented by the Chinese in Malacca, 
in 1 8 16) was introduced into Singapore in 1824, and was, 
in 1830, the chief manufacture. There were also two 
shipbuilding establishments here at that time. 

Nutmegs and cloves were freely planted ; but the clove 
trees died off in five or six years, and the nutmegs, owing 
to disease, did not survive much longer. The hope 
expressed by Mr. Canning in the House of Commons, 
in 1824, that in a very short time the island of Singapore 
would be able to supply all the spices needed by the 
civilised world, was thus dashed to the ground. Cotton 
was planted with every prospect of success ; but the 
conditions soon proved unsuitable. Sugar met with 
much the same fate. Pepper, pineapples, and gambier 
fared better ; but there was not much money to be made 
in agriculture : capital found a larger and quicker 
return in commerce, and it was into trading concerns 
that people put their money. The lack of success in 
agriculture was partly attributed to the system of land 
tenure which then prevailed, and to the inefficiency of 
the police, which rendered agricultural pursuits unsafe. 
Tigers, too, were a terror all over the island. The seas 


had even worse terrors. They were infested with pirates, 
and there was a constant outcry and appeal to Govern- 
ment for more energetic measures in deaUng with them. 
It was not till 1821 that the first ship arrived from 
England. The first steamer seen here was the Dutch 
s.s. Van der Capellan^ which called here on the 17th 
April 1827, and the Nemesis, the first steamer from Eng- 
land round the Cape of Good Hope, arrived on the 
30th October 1840. The merchants of those early days 
led a free and easy life, being an independent community, 
intent on business. There were nine mercantile houses 
at the beginning of 1 823 ; and it was, no doubt, a member 
of one of these firms who, taking the law into his own 
hands, locked up in his godown, for some trifling oifence, 
a captain of one of the ships consigned to the firm. 


Although the Chamber of Commerce was not formed 
until 1837, prior to that, on more than one occasion, 
merchants had combined to defend their interests, or 
to air their grievances. We find them assembled, in 
1823, to bid Rafiles farewell, and to receive from him, 
on his departure, a confirmation of the permanent 
Charter of Freedom to which he had pledged himself in 
founding the Settlement. 

In 1830 we find them again assembled, this time to 
meet the Governor-General of India, who was visiting 
the port. Three of their number were then deputed to 
voice certain grievances — grievances which went to show 
that trade was not quite so free as it should have been 
had the intention of Rafiles been fully adhered to. 
Amongst other things, the merchants requested that 
American vessels might be allowed to trade here. This 
was an old complaint, yet the absurd restriction was not 
removed until a few years later. In 1835 we read of 
American ships anchoring at Pulo Bulang, fourteen miles 
from our Roads, communication being maintained by 
smaller craft. Thus was an excellent cash customer 
prevented from freely trading here. Another request 


was that tea might be allowed to be transhipped to 
foreign vessels ; for, as we have seen, the East India 
Company did not relax its grip upon the tea trade till 
1834. Further, they raised the old questions of the 
Dutch duties and of the lack of local currency, and 
they asked that war stores might be admitted freely. 

It is interesting to note, with regard to these Dutch 
duties, that Holland had hoped to destroy our commerce 
by imposing heavy duties on British goods, and on goods 
carried by British ships ; also by restricting foreign trade 
to a few of their ports. At one time Batavia was the 
only port in Java where Europeans could trade, and a 
duty of 35 per cent, was placed upon English cotton 
and woollen goods imported into Java. 

The Dutch soon found, however, that protection did 
not pay, and that their unsound policy only played more 
and more into our hands. Finally, they reaHsed that, 
if Dutch commerce and prestige were to be maintained, 
the example of Singapore must be followed. But they 
learned this too late to shake the foundations of Singa- 
pore's greatness, so well and truly laid. We read from a 
narrative by a Captain Mundy, in 1843, that 

" Singapore owed its prosperity as much to the ill- 
advised measures of the Dutch as to the sagacity of 
Sir Stamford Raffles ; it was the strong contrast between 
Dutch rapacity and English liberaHty which told in its 
favour. In former years the Dutch loaded all the native 
traders with heavy harbour dues and all sorts of exactions; 
but they have now in some measure thrown open their 
ports, and are endeavouring to rival us in hberal offers 
to native traders." 

This altered policy soon justified itself. It is said that 
it takes two to make a quarrel ; equally true is it that 
it takes more than one to do a deal. All trade is mutually 
profitable, and there is no better proof of this than in 
the records of trade between Singapore and the Dutch 
East Indies. 

A hundred years ago we lived in undisguised hostility 
with our nearest neighbours ; in 1823 a circular letter 


announcing the appointment of Mr. Crawfurd as 
Resident at Singapore was returned to us unanswered 
by the Governor-General of Java, and, when Raffles was 
on his way to England with his wife, on touching at 
Batavia, the party was made the object of studied insult. 
After the repeal of the Dutch duties, however, this old 
feeling of animosity gradually passed away, friendly 
intercourse increased, and trade has now so grown that 
we can claim that our trade with the Dutch East Indies 
is, next to our trade with the Malay Peninsula, larger 
than that with any other country. In the last trade 
returns published (191 5) our imports and exports were 
$1 10,000,000 out of $654,000,000, or 17 per cent. 

In 1 83 1 we read of merchants petitioning Parlia- 
ment on the subject of the Court of Justice, as no 
Court had been held in the Straits Settlements for 
fifteen months. The following year a new Recorder 
was appointed. 

In 1834 the local Government proposed to levy dues 
on shipping, but nothing was done. Two years later 
an attempt was made to tax imports and exports, in 
order to meet the expenses incidental to the suppression 
of piracy ; but at once the merchants were up in arms, 
protesting against '' such an impost." Government had 
to give way, though within a few months a further 
suggestion of a tonnage duty on all square-rigged vessels 
was made. This was inveighed against in the Press, and 
came to naught. 

In 1835 the merchants, with W. H. Read in the chair, 
met to make rules for the sale of goods. There had 
been a series of failures in the Bazaar. Trade was barter 
pure and simple in those early days ; goods were 
sold for payment in three to four months, staple produce 
under promissory notes. Trade had been pushed to 
too great an extent ; importations of European goods 
of all descriptions flooded the market, and were forced 
upon it ; buyers had the whip hand, and piece-goods 
houses did not enforce payment of their promissory 
notes when they fell due. It was in an endeavour to 


bring the merchants into hne that the meeting referred 
to was called ; and, as a result of it, a cash system was 
decided upon, which, we are told, was working well a 
year later. 

The Chamber of Commerce was first established on 
the 8th February 1837, ^^^ there sat on the Committee, 
in addition to British members, an Arab, an Armenian, 
and a Chinaman. Any member elected to the Com- 
mittee who refused to serve was fined $50, and, having 
agreed to serve, he was mulcted in a fine of $5 for non- 
attendance at a meeting. 

The Chamber soon got to work, one of the first items 
on its agenda being the question of the infringement of 
the Dutch Treaty by the prohibition of the import of 
British manufactured goods into Java. The Chamber 
seems to have come into existence at the end of a period 
of bad trade, perhaps as a result of it. Prior to this 
merchants had probably been too busy making money 
to worry about co-operation. It is recorded that trade, 
which totalled over four million pounds sterling in 1829, 
fell to less than three million in 1836. By one writer 
(Earl) the retrogression was attributed to the death of 
the founder of the Settlement and the consequent 
neglect of our commercial interests in the Archipelago, 
together with the unwarrantable impositions and re- 
strictions of the Dutch. That this question was the 
first to engage the attention of the Chamber lends 
colour to this view. 

Disturbed conditions in the old country (we were near- 
ing the Hungry 'Forties) were probably reflected here, 
and may have accounted for the set-back, which seems, 
however, to have been short-lived ; for ten years later 
we find Davidson writing that the trade of Singapore had 
gone on steadily increasing. Later in that year there 
had, apparently, been severe losses in the Bazaar, due 
to giving credit to Chinese ** men of straw." Attempts 
were again made to estabhsh a cash system. The agree- 
ment amongst merchants to combine with this end in 
yiew had evidently been honoured more in the breach 


than the observance, as, indeed, have been all such 
attempts down to the present day. 

At this time there were misgivings as to the future 
of our trade ; the acquisition of Hongkong and the 
opening up of commerce with China were expected to 
affect our interests injuriously ; it was thought that the 
zenith of Singapore's prosperity had been reached. 
Later, when Labuan was ceded to us, many were the 
evil prognostications in circulation. And so on down 
the century we have always had from time to time these 
gloomy forebodings. In our own time most of us can call 
to mind doleful prophecies that Singapore's supremacy 
must decline in these advanced days of communication 
and direct shipment. A sound knowledge of the 
principles which regulate trade should, however, assure 
us that, granted the freedom of the port of Singapore, 
there is nothing to fear from any competition ; such 
competition will but lead to an increased flow of 
capital and encouragement to local enterprise. Certain 
branches of our trade may suffer, but the volume of it 
will undoubtedly steadily grow. 

The records of the Chamber of Commerce extend back 
to 1859, and we find reference in those early days to 
questions which have agitated us in more recent times. 
In i860 a resolution was passed in general meeting 
opposing a suggested income-tax on the grounds, firstly, 
that it was unnecessary, because there was no deficiency 
in the revenue of the Straits Settlements ; secondly, 
that no Government is justified in taking even the 
smallest sum of money from the people unless it can be 
clearly shown that it will be productive of some advan- 
tage to them ; and thirdly, that the effect of such an 
inquisitorial and oppressive tax would be deeply injurious 
to the commerce and revenue of the Settlement, by 
tending to drive the migratory population, and with it 
the trade, to the neighbouring country of Johore and 
other foreign possessions. Very much the same objec- 
tions were, raised when this question cropped up again 
fifty-one years later. In the same year we find the 


Chamber again strongly objecting to a proposal to levy 
port dues as being likely to prove injurious to trade. 

In 1862 the following firms were members of the 
Chamber : 

Messrs. J. d 'Almeida & Sons. 
,, Geo. Armstrong & Co. 
,, Behn, Meyer & Co. 
The Borneo Co., Ltd. 
Messrs. Busing, Schroder & Co. 
B. H. Cama & Co. 
Cumming, Beaver & Co. 
Guthrie & Co. 
Hamilton, Gray & Co. 
Hinnekindt Freres & L. Cateaux 
A. L. Johnston & Co. 
Wm. Macdonald & Co. 
Maclaine, Fraser & Co. 
Martin, Dyce & Co. 
Middleton, Harrison & Co. 
Paterson, Simons & Co. 
Puttfarcken, Rheiner & Co. 
Rautenberg, Schmidt & Co. 
Reme, Leveson & Co. 
Shaw, Walker & Co. 
Smith, Bell & Co. 
Wm. Spottiswoode & Co. 
Syme & Co. 

Zapp, Rittershaus <& Co. 
The Oriental Banking Corporation. 
The Chartered Bank of India, London and China. 
The Chartered Mercantile Bank of India and 

The P. & O. Steam Navigation Co. 
T. O. Crane, Esq. 
Byramjee Pestonjee, Esq. 
Of these thirty firms, all have disappeared but the 
following six : 

The Borneo Co., Ltd. 
Messrs. Guthrie & Co., Ltd. 


Messrs. Paterson, Simons & Co., Ltd. 
,, Syme & Co. 

The Chartered Bank of India, London and China. 

The P. & O. Steam Navigation Co., Ltd. 
The firm of Boustead and Co., which is still so well 
known in Malaya, does not appear to have been a member 
of the Chamber in 1 862, though it is known that the firm 
took part in the founding of the Chamber, and, of course, 
has rejoined it since 1862. 

In 1862 there is evidence in the minutes of the 
Chamber of attempts by the Dutch to draw trade away 
from Singapore, and the Government was approached 
with the suggestion that " much useful information in 
this respect might be obtained from the nakhodas of 
native prahus arriving from the eastward were the 
Registrar of Imports and Exports directed to question 
them." In 1865 we find that cannon-shot was removed 
from the Chamber of Commerce stock list ; so, apparently, 
the dealings in war stores, which had so interested the 
merchants in 1830, had ceased. 

Those early committees jealously guarded the interests 
of merchants, and also the finances of the Chamber. On 
one occasion we find them objecting to a charge of $6 per 
annum imposed by the Post Office for delivering certain 
expresses. Correspondence ensued ; eventually the 
Postmaster-General refused to cancel or even modify 
the charge. In solemn conclave the assembled Com- 
mittee, no doubt after a long discussion, decided not 
to reply to this last communication, but to treat it with 
the contempt it deserved. 

It was not until 1878 that the present building, 
comprising the Club and Chamber of Commerce, was 
built. The gates were installed nine years later, as it 
was found that the exchange room afforded a convenient 
haven for loafers. 


By this time the outline of the town and sea-front, as 
we know them to-day, had begun to take shape. Collyer 


Quay was finished in 1864. It had been designed by 
Colonel Collyer, Chief Engineer of the Straits Settlements, 
when it was found that the river was silting up ; the 
traffic on it had become congested, and trade demanded 
more elbow-room. The year before the opening of 
Collyer Quay the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company was 
formed, and its wharves were at once found to be a great 
adjunct to the port. 

We were then on the eve of a great development of 
Eastern trade, caused by the opening of the Suez Canal. 
This development resulted in increased traffic from 
Europe to the China Sea, and in the more general 
employment of steam-vessels of a large class, requiring 
much greater wharfage room than sailing-vessels. Thus 
the Tanjong Pagar wharves began to handle an ever- 
increasing volume of cargo and coal. 

An opposition scheme for a screw-pile pier, jutting out 
into the harbour near Finlayson Green, at right angles 
to Collyer Quay, fell through ; but that it was contem- 
plated was evidence of the then existing need of 
wharfage accommodation. 

In 1 867 the Settlement was transferred to the Colonial 
Office. For some years previously it had been obvious 
that control from India was prejudicial to our develop- 
ment. So far back as 1859 the Chamber of Commerce, 
in general meeting, had resolved that a petition to 
Parliament should be prepared, and submitted to a 
public meeting, praying that the Straits Settlements be 
disjoined from the Government of Continental India 
and placed directly under the Secretary of State for 
India with a Legislative Council. 

We needed a local Government with the power to pass 
laws demanded by the requirements of the port ; legisla- 
tion dealing with bankruptcy, ports and harbours, 
stamps, passenger ships, and other matters was long 

Almost fifty years of our history had then been run, 
and we started the new era with little more than our 
credit behind us. So low were our finances that, in 1 87 1 , 


the Governor, in addressing Council, said that he aimed 
at having a balance of $50,000 in hand, as a reserve, 
a provision for " dark days " ahead. 

That year an attempt was made to link up the wharves 
at Tanjong Pagar and Keppel Harbour with the town 
by means of a railway. Prior to the opening up of 
Tanjong Pagar, there had been a dry dock at New 
Harbour — the " snug cove," as described by Earl in 
the early Thirties. This dock, now known as Keppel 
Harbour, was acquired by the Patent Slip and Dock 
Company, afterwards converted into the New Harbour 
Dock Company. When the opening of the Tanjong 
Pagar Dock Company's wharves showed that there was 
business to be done, the rival concern built a wharf and 
competed for the import trade. A controversy between 
the two parties eventually took place concerning the 
railway to the town. This dispute was known as the 
' ' Long and the Short Line. ' ' Much excitement was caused 
thereby in mercantile circles for a year or two, and the 
correspondence between the two companies and 
Government, which can be found in the Council pro- 
ceedings of the period, is both interesting and amusing 
reading to-day. The quarrel culminated in a public 
meeting, at which the Tanjong Pagar party seem to have 
carried the day. The Secretary of State, however, 
decided that, if a railway were made, it should be under 
Government control ; he was averse to entrusting its 
concession to any one faction. This proposition did 
not appeal to either party, and little more was heard of 
the railway. Although at the time it was urged that 
the railway would so cheapen transport as to drive out 
the bullock-cart, it is doubtful if it would have done so, 
judging by the utter failure of the attempt which was 
made, a few years later, to run a steam tramway to and 
from the wharves. 

In 1872 trade with the Native States of the Malay 
Peninsula was beginning to have some attraction for 
Singapore merchants ; but they were plainly told by 
Governor Ord that their operations were entirely at 


their own risk, and that they would receive no counte- 
nance or protection from Government — a poHcy no doubt 
dictated from Downing Street. The call from the Penin- 
sula could not, however, long be ignored, and force of cir- 
cumstances soon caused a change in the official attitude. 

About this time the silting up of the Singapore River 
was causing grave concern. As early as 1823 the im- 
portance of the river to the trade of Singapore was recog- 
nised. In that year Crawfurd writes : " The existence 
of the river, or rather creek, of Singapore forms one of the 
most valuable and striking features of the place as a 
commercial port, and some scheme of dredging it is 
indispensable." Attempts had been made to dredge 
it, but without success. In 1878 a Committee, the first 
of many, was appointed to report on the condition of 
the river and its requirements. Though forty years 
and more have elapsed, though reclamations of huge 
areas in the harbour and developments at the docks 
have increased the wharfage accommodation of the port 
enormously, the Singapore River, which still remains in 
this year of grace (191 9) one of the most valuable and 
striking features of the place, has had no attention 
bestowed upon it beyond a cursory dredging in the middle 
of its channel. It remains undeveloped — useless for traffic 
for more than twelve hours of the twenty-four. A Com- 
mission is now sitting to decide what is to be done. Let us 
hope that it will be the last, and that it will tackle the pro- 
blem with foresight and a wide sense of its responsibility. 

In 1879 the first reclamation in Telok Ayer was 
approved by the Secretary of State. The work was com- 
pleted eight years later. An area of eighteen acres was 
thus added to the commercial part of the town, and the 
fact that $9 J per foot has just been paid for some of that 
land is proof of the wisdom of those who pressed the 
scheme forward forty years ago. 


In 1886 Government resolved to treat the Chamber of 
Commerce as a representative body, and the right to 
II— 4 


nominate an Unofficial Member to sit on the Legislative 
Council of the Straits Settlements was conceded. At 
this time the question of bankruptcy was again to the 
fore. The Ordinance of 1870 had quite broken down. 
It was said that the way to wealth for the dishonest 
native trader was through the Bankruptcy Court, and 
it was authoritatively stated that the great majority 
of failures were fraudulent. The 1870 Ordinance was 
founded on the English Act of 1869, the leading idea 
being that creditors could be trusted to look after debtors 
themselves. The result here, however, was that com- 
positions were preferred to bankruptcy proceedings, 
which often wasted much time and caused much trouble. 
The English law of 1883 made insolvency something 
approaching a crime, and on this our new legislation 
was based : proceedings, once commenced, could not be 
withdrawn without the consent of the Court. A satis- 
factory feature of recent years, whether due to our 
legislation or not, is the dechne not only in the number 
of failures, but in the fraudulent character of those 

In this year (1887) commercial men were agitated by 
the new import tariff established in French Indo-China. 
In view of the fact that trade had hitherto been free, 
it was serious enough that any tariff should be raised 
against us ; but what we protested against most 
strenuously was that we should have to penetrate the 
maximum and not the minimum tariff. Our contention 
was that, as Singapore was a free port with no tariff of 
any kind, its merchants were entitled to the lower rate. 
Our representations, however, were not well received, 
and we were advised by the Foreign Office to let the 
matter drop. It was raised again in 1893, 1895, and 1896, 
with no better results. 

It is interesting to reflect that this differential tariff 
was the direct result of the decision of Canada and other 
British Colonies to give preference to British goods, and 
this retaliation by the French affords us food for thought 
in these days, when there is so much talk of Imperial 


Preference. As our trade is largely barter, the high 
tariff imposed at Saigon practically stopped imports 
from Singapore, and this resulted in our ceasing to buy 
our rice and salt fish from Saigon. We were driven into 
the arms of the Siamese for these two vital necessities, 
and a large and important trade was diverted to Bangkok. 
Our relations with France at that time were not, of 
course, as cordial as they are now, and as we hope they 
always will remain. 

During the Great War these Saigon duties have been 
to some extent relaxed. May we not hope that they 
may ere long be swept away altogether, and that we may, 
by freer trade, return to a larger intercourse with our 
neighbours and allies in the East? In this connection 
it is interesting to note what a hold Singapore still has 
on the Bangkok trade. In spite of many attempts to 
do a direct trade between Europe and Bangkok, these 
have generally proved unsuccessful. The Singapore 
dealer has an agent or a branch in Bangkok to ship 
rice to Singapore in exchange for piece goods, and this 
interchange of commodities is still considerable. 

In 1888 we find the first attempt on the part of 
Government to deal with a very much disputed question 
in commercial circles, the Registration of Partnerships. 
The Government, in introducing a Bill to deal with this 
subject, professed to meet the wishes of the mercantile 
community. They were justified in the attempt, for 
there had been for some years agitation on the part of 
the Chamber of Commerce for registration. In i860 
the Chamber memorialised Government " regarding the 
necessity of passing an Act for the Registration of all 
Partnerships and changes of Partners in firms trading in 
the Straits Settlements." In 1864 the Chamber re- 
solved, " That the Chinese and other dealers in the 
bazaar be invited to enter their Chops and the names 
of the various partners trading thereunder in a register 
to be kept by the Chamber, and that any changes be 
communicated." The Chinese, no doubt, refused to do 
anything of the kind, and interest languished for some 


years ; in fact, there seems to have been a reversal of 
opinion on the part of the Chamber of Commerce, for 
when the Bill of 1888 was introduced, it was opposed 
by their member of the Council (Mr. Adamson), and was 
withdrawn. A few years later Government again took 
up the matter. A Bill was introduced and carried, the 
Chamber of Commerce member (Mr. Thomas Shelf ord) 
being the only one to vote against it. But the Chamber 
of Commerce in general meeting opposed the Bill, and 
Government decided not to proceed further. After 
lying dormant for eleven years, this question was again 
raised in 1905, when a new Bill was introduced into 
Council. In the following year it passed its second read- 
ing by nine votes to four, and was then referred to a 
Select Committee ; but the Chamber of Commerce, the 
Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and the Chinese Ad- 
visory Board were all found to be against legislation, 
and the Bill never got as far as the third reading. 
Three attempts have now been made to frame a work- 
able measure, but the obstacles to the success of regis- 
tration are great. It would be difficult to decide where 
to draw the line and where to start, and, further, it would 
be almost impossible to prevent evasion and fraud, 
where fraud was intended. The strongest argument 
from the mercantile point of view is that registration 
is unnecessary, that there is little demand for it from 
those most concerned, and the less interference and 
inquisition on the part of Government, the better for the 
trade of the port. 

In 1889 a matter of some interest to traders was 
brought before the Chamber of Commerce, namely, the 
advisability of introducing legislation for the registration 
of Trade Marks. It cropped up again in 1892, 1896, 
1904, and 191 8, but the unanimousopinionoftheChamber 
has always been that registration of trade marks is 
unnecessary and unworkable here, and would lead to 
endless confusion. Adequate protection has always been 
obtained under the present law, and it is interesting to 
learn that, even in the old country, manufacturers are 


nowadays beginning to rely less upon registration and 
more upon the right of prior user, which prevails here. 

In 1897 there came into existence an association of 
shipowners and shippers, known as the Straits Home- 
ward Conference, which caused endless heartburning 
and turmoil in mercantile circles for a number of years. 
Government appointed a Commission, in 1902, to investi- 
gate the grievances under which the trade of the port 
was alleged to be suffering, but nothing was done. 
Agitation showed its head again in 1905, and then in 1908, 
when Government refused to take any action, pending the 
issue of the report of the Royal Commission on Shipping 
Rings. Even after the publication of this report 
opposition to the local Conference still continued. 
Government sympathy was enlisted, with the result that 
in 1 910 a Freight and Steamship Bill was introduced 
and passed in Council, with but one dissentient voice. 
It aimed at freeing the port from the incubus of Confer- 
ence vessels. As the time drew near for the Ordinance 
to come into operation, the possibility that Conference 
tonnage would be withdrawn, and that there would be 
little or no outside tonnage to take its place, caused 
some alarm. The date of the commencement of the 
Ordinance was postponed, in order to enable the 
Governor, Sir John Anderson, who was going to England, 
to interview the Conference shipowners, with a view 
of finding a way out of the impasse. The chief com- 
plaints against the Conference were : 

(i) That, by a system of deferred rebates, shippers 
were irrevocably bound to the Conference, and had to 
ship at rates which were considered too high ; they were 
unable to take advantage of any cheap tramp tonnage 
which might be in the neighbourhood. 

(2) That at the inauguration of the Conference it had 
been arranged that a sum, amounting to 5 per cent, 
on the total freight earned (known as the secret rebate), 
was to be divided annually, and paid over in varying 
proportions, to certain firms which had made a sacrifice 


of chartering business, in order to support the Conference, 
or which might have been of service in other ways, such 
as being able to control large shipments of cargo. 

The Conference supporters repHed to these com- 
plaints : 

(i) That, though rates undoubtedly were above 
current market freights, there were compensations in a 
more regular service, by higher class steamers, to a larger 
number of ports in Europe. 

(2) That the extra rebate paid was a preference which 
large and influential firms would always obtain, even 
in a free market. 

As a result of the discussion in London, the deferred 
rebate system was maintained, but with triennial 
periods, at the end of which any shipper could break 
away from the Conference without forfeiting his rebates. 
In actual practice this triennial chance of freedom is 
of little or no value. The '' secret rebate " was done 
away with, the firms being compensated for their loss 
in lump sums, at the expense of the shipowners. The 
result of this has been that shipowners now pocket 
5 per cent, more freight than they did in the past. 
The bulk of this sum represents dead loss to the producers 
in the Colony and elsewhere, in whose interest Govern- 
ment was urged to act. To explain : in the old days, as a 
result of competition, the recipients of the '' secret 
rebate " were compelled to give most of it away in 
purchasing produce, thus ensuring a better price for it 
than would otherwise have been obtainable. 


Let us now turn to the question of currency. Origin- 
ally the Spanish dollar was the standard of value adopted 
here. It was in this coin that payment was made to the 
Sultan and the Tumunggong, under the treaties which 
transferred to us, first the Harbour, and later the island 
of Singapore. The Spanish dollar was the popular 


coin even in Penang, where one would have expected 
the rupee to find favour. As Sir Robert Chalmers 
records : 

*' In spite of the fact that the East India Company, 
in 1787 and 1788, struck a silver coinage consisting of 
rupees with half- and quarter- rupees, and copper cents, 
half-cents, and quarter-cents, the trade relations of the 
Settlement (Penang) constrained the mercantile com- 
munity to adopt as their standard not the Indian coin, 
but the universal Spanish dollar, the coin famihar to the 
conservative races with whom they had commerce." 

Low, in his Dissertation on Penang, tells us that the 
dollar was the favourite coin in the Straits. Indian 
rupees were also in circulation, but gold was hardly ever 

In 1835 the East India Company revised its currency 
legislation for the whole of its territories, including the 
Straits Settlements, and made no exception in favour of 
the dollar-using Colony when enforcing the rupee as the 
standard coin ; but later a concession was made by which 
it was provided that the Indian regulations should not 
apply to the copper currency of the Straits Settlements. 
These copper coins, cents, half-cents, and quarter-cents, 
were struck at the Calcutta Mint, and were legal tender 
only for fractions of a dollar. But even this concession 
was withdrawn by an Act of 1855. The intention of the 
East India Company was, undoubtedly, to force the rupee 
into general circulation in Singapore, as it had already 
attempted to do, many years before, in Penang. 

The project was countermanded by the Home Author- 
ities, however, as the result of a report by Sir Hercules 
Robinson, in which he dwelt upon the great inconve- 
nience experienced and the public demonstrations which 
took place against the change of currency. In his report 
Sir Hercules Robinson also pointed out the unsoundness 
of the system then prevailing, under which coins not in 
circulation were declared by law a legal tender, and 
under which the public accounts were kept in the 


denomination of one currency, whilst the real monetary 
transactions of both the Government and the public 
were conducted in another. It was, as he said, a system 
productive of nothing but endless labour and confusion. 

In actual fact, as far as the mercantile community was 
concerned, all the Indian Acts favouring the rupee were 
nugatory — " Law is powerless against public con- 
venience " — and the dollar, in all its varied forms, held 
the popular fancy. In 1 863 the Chamber of Commerce 
advocated the coinage of a British dollar. The Hongkong 
Mint, which opened three years later, met this demand 
to some extent by striking a coin modelled on the 
Mexican dollar. The Hongkong Mint, however, closed 
in 1868, and this source of supply was therefore cut off. 

In 1867 (the year of the transfer of the Settlement 
to the Colonial Office) an Ordinance was passed by the 
local Government repealing all laws which made Indian 
coins legal tender, and declaring that, from the ist April 
1867, the Hongkong dollar, the silver dollar of Spain, 
Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia, and any other silver dollar 
to be specified from time to time, should be the only 
legal tender. Subsidiary coins were at first supplied 
by the Hongkong Mint, but later on were obtained 
either from England or India. By an Order-in-Council 
of 1874, the American trade dollar and the Japanese 
yen were admitted to unlimited legal tender. In 1872 
the question of a British trade dollar was again raised. 
At that time it was felt that a recent decision of the 
Mexican Government to remit the export duty of 8 per 
cent, on dollars, and to allow the free export of silver 
bars, would have the effect of so increasing the price 
of dollars on the London market, and reducing the 
number in circulation, as to render it necessary for the 
Government to coin a British dollar for the protection 
of the trade of the Colony. The alarm subsided, how- 
ever, as the Mexican Government soon revised its 
financial policy. 

In 1874 the Singapore Chamber of Commerce joined 
hands with the Hongkong Chamber in advocating the 


introduction of a British dollar, for general circulation 
in the Straits and China. It was very generally held 
that it was most unsatisfactory to be entirely depen- 
dent for our coin on two foreign countries, Mexico and 
Japan. The Home Government, though sympathetic, 
refused to carry out the suggestion, as they feared it 
would be impossible to lay down a coin as cheaply as 
the Mexican dollar. Nothing further was done until 
1886, when the Chamber of Commerce passed a reso- 
lution unanimously proposing that the Mexican and 
other dollars, and the yen, be demonetised, and that a 
British trade dollar, weighing 416 grains and of 900 
fineness, should be accepted as the only legal tender 
in the Colony. The Legislative Council approved and 
passed a similar resolution ; but the proposal did not 
appeal to the Home Government, and again the matter 
dropped. In 1890 all previous laws regulating legal 
tender were repealed. The Mexican dollar was con- 
stituted the standard, and the American trade dollar, 
the Japanese yen, and the Hongkong dollar and half- 
dollar were made unlimited legal tender. The Straits 
Settlements half-dollar and other subsidiary silver 
coins of 800 fineness were made legal tender for an 
amount of two dollars, and the Colonial copper and 
mixed metal coins for an amount of one dollar. 

In the following year an Ordinance was passed, 
giving the Governor-in-Council power to prohibit the 
importation or the circulation of such coins as were 
not legal tender. The American trade dollar and 
Japanese yen were soon afterwards demonetised, and 
the importation of the latter coin was prohibited, except 
for transhipment. 

This is how matters stood, when, in our search 
through the records of the past, we first came across, 
in 1893, the suggestion that something should be done 
to secure some stability in our standard of value. In 
that year the average value of the dollar was 2s. 7f^., 
having dropped nearly lod. in three years. The Sher- 
man Act had just then been repealed in America, and. 


further, the Indian mints were closed to the free coinage 
of silver. A further fall in the price of silver was 

A local Committee, consisting of Government officials, 
members of the Chamber of Commerce, and representa- 
tives of the Chinese community, was appointed to 
consider the matter. The Committee could not agree : 
half the members, including a banker and three Chinese, 
were against the introduction of a gold standard ; while 
the other half were in favour of it, provided that the 
Indian scheme for fixing the value of the rupee was 
successful. They further held that the gold standard 
could be best established here by extending the circu- 
lation of the Indian currency to the Straits Settlements. 
This latter recommendation causes some surprise in 
view of former oft-repeated expressions of aversion to 
the rupee. It was based upon the fear that the diffi- 
culties in the way of bringing the dollar on to a gold 
basis were insuperable. 

Bankers had all along been antagonistic to fixity ; 
probably they quite naturally regarded the scheme as 
an attempt at control of a commodity in which they 
were primarily interested. They were supported in 
their opposition by many planters and miners, who 
were of the opinion that a falling dollar had the effect 
of giving an impetus to planting enterprise and produc- 
tion generally. One banker even went so far as to 
assert that any attempt to fix the rate for a British 
dollar would be a great failure, and would not work 

It is amusing to recall that the Chinese members of 
the Committee were of the opinion that though fixity 
of exchange might attract capital to the Colony, it 
would also afford means for the withdrawal of all money 
of timid capitalists from the Colony. The Executive 
Council, to which body the report was then referred, 
were equally divided between a gold standard and 
free silver. Accordingly it does not occasion any 
surprise that no action was taken by the Secretary of 


State with fixity in view. In the meantime a Depart- 
mental Committee had been sitting at the Colonial 
Office, under the presidency of Lord Herschell, to con- 
sider currency questions in the Eastern Colonies. It 
made no recommendation in regard to any change in 
the standard of value in the Straits Settlements, but 
advised that owing to the scarcity of Mexican dollars 
at that time, a British dollar should be issued for 
circulation here and in other Eastern Colonies. 

As a result of this, in 1894, the Bombay Mint began 
the coinage of a British dollar weighing 416 grains 
and of 900 fineness, and in the following year the 
Governor was able to state, in his annual address to 
Council, that he had heard of no unwillingness to accept 
it as legal tender in the Colony. 

It was in 1880 that the Lords of the Treasury, having 
a short time previously refused to sanction the coinage 
of a trade dollar, threw out the suggestion that there 
should be a Government issue of one-dollar notes. In 
the following year Legislative Council passed a reso- 
lution favouring such an issue for a sum not exceeding 
$300,000. However, the Lords of the Treasury, on 
reconsidering the matter, decided that the necessity for 
the dollar note had not been shown, and refused to 
authorise the issue. Four years later Council again 
voted in favour of an issue of $500,000 in one-dollar 
notes, and also recommended Government control of 
the note issue. But apparently the time was not yet 
ripe for action, for the whole question was dropped 
for some years, owing to lack of public interest. 

It is a remarkable instance of the tenacity of our 
laissez-faire policy that even with regard to currency — 
a matter which, it is generally conceded, should be 
subject to Government control and regulation — the bulk 
of opinion during the first eighty years of the Settle- 
ment's existence was antagonistic to any Government 
interference. For it was not till 1 896 that we come to 
the first serious attempt, on the part of Government, to 
legislate in currency matters. In this year the Currency 


Note Bill was introduced into Council. The Unofficial 
Members unanimously opposed it, as also did the 
Chamber of Commerce, the reasons advanced being 
that it was feared that Government intended to oust 
the banks' note issues, and, further, that it was not 
advisable that Singapore should be the only place 
where notes could be encashed. It was held that pro- 
vision for encashment should also be made in Penang. 
Government persisted, however, and the Bill was passed. 
The issue of notes began on the ist May 1899. In that 
year a new Currency Note Bill, on very much the same 
lines as the 1897 Ordinance which it repealed, was 
introduced and passed without opposition. 

It is odd that, in view of previous demands for dollar 
notes, we find that none was actually issued until 
1906. In the meantime the question of fixity of 
exchange had again forced itself into prominence. In 
1 896 the average value of the dollar was approximately 
2s.2\d. In the following year, after a further and sudden 
fall in the value of silver, a sub-committee was ap- 
pointed by the Chamber of Commerce to enquire into 
the local currency and the question of a gold standard. 
The Committee reported in favour of fixing the value 
of the dollar at 25. 

The report met with some criticism, both from the 
Government here and in the Federated Malay States, 
and nothing was done until 1902. In that year 
exchange dropped from is. 10^^^. to is.6^d,, and was on 
the downward grade all through the year. The Chamber 
of Commerce then addressed a letter to Government 
asking if they were prepared to reconsider the question 
of fixing exchange. In reply, the Governor invited the 
views of the Chamber of Commerce on the advisability 
of attempting some arrangement with neighbouring 
countries as to a uniform relative value between local 
currency and gold. The Chamber was of opinion that 
such a scheme of co-operation was impossible, and they 
asked for enquiry by an expert. The correspondence 
was forwarded to the Secretary of State, with the 


request that the whole question might be referred to 
an expert, preferably with Indian experience. 

The Barbour Commission of 1903 was the result. 
The chief recommendations of that Commission were : 

(i) The introduction of a Straits dollar of the same 
weight and fineness as the British dollar then current. 

(2) The demonetisation of Mexican and British dollars 
as soon as the supply of the new dollars was sufficient. 

(3) That the coinage of the new dollar should then 
cease until its exchange value had reached whatever 
value in relation to the sovereign might be decided 
on by Government. 

The recommendations were approved both by Govern- 
ment and by the Chamber of Commerce, and the sug- 
gested conversion scheme was carried out with certain 
modifications, found necessary in the course of trade. 
In November 1904 the recoinage of the old dollars was 
completed, and some thirty-five million new Straits 
dollars had been received in the Colony. The demone- 
tisation of British, Hongkong, and Mexican dollars had 
been proclaimed two months earlier. 

The way was now open for fixing the gold value of the 
coin. This was not done till, on the 29th January 
1906, it was fixed at 25. 4d., the intervening period 
being one of great anxiety both to the Government and 
to the commercial community, owing to a rise in silver 
and to violent speculation in exchange. It is a very 
interesting and instructive story, but too long to 
relate here, and those interested cannot do better than 
refer to Kemmerer's Modern Currency Reforms, or to 
Currency Reform in the Straits Settlements, by J. O. 

It was hoped that our currency troubles were then 
at an end, but we had not reckoned upon silver. On 
the 29th January 1906 an Ordinance was passed pro- 
viding for the issue in Singapore of notes for gold at 
the rate of $60 for £7. Further, the Currency Com- 
missioners were empowered to issue notes in Singapore 


against telegraphic transfers in favour of the Crown 
Agents for the Colonies in London, at a rate which would 
cover the cost of remitting the gold from London to 
Singapore. Later in the year another Ordinance was 
passed legalising the reverse operation, namely, the 
acceptance of notes by the Currency Commissioners in 
Singapore in exchange for gold paid in London by the 
Crown Agents, as also the issue of gold in exchange for 
notes in Singapore. 

Under these Ordinances a sum of a milhon sterhng 
was quickly accumulated. Simultaneously the dollar 
note was made unlimited legal tender. In this year 
silver rose to such a height as to render it necessary to 
review the situation anew. There were two alternatives 
before us, either to reduce the silver content of the 
dollar or to raise its nominal value, already higher than 
was at first anticipated or desired. The former course 
was decided upon, and there were then two possible 
ways of depreciating the value of the dollar, by 
reducing either its fineness or its size. It was decided 
to reduce its size, and the old fineness (900) was retained, 
the weight being reduced to 312 grs. To obviate a 
drain on the silver reserve during recoinage British 
sovereigns were made unlimited legal tender, and so 
were the 50-cent pieces. 

In view of the popularity of the dollar notes, it was 
unnecessary to remint the whole of the thirty-five million 
Straits dollars ; therefore only nineteen million were 
reminted into dollars and fifty-cent pieces, the latter 
being changed to exactly half the weight of the dollar 
and of the same fineness ; at the same time the opportu- 
nity was taken of withdrawing the subsidiary silver of 
800 fineness, and of replacing it with coins of 600 fineness. 
Once more it was thought that the value of silver had 
no further terrors for us. The Governor, in alluding to 
these proposed reforms, remarked : " We shall then have 
placed our currency on an impregnable basis." But, as 
we shall see later, our troubles were by no means at an 


In 1908 the important step was taken of legislating 
to enable the Crown Agents in London to hold, in gold, 
part of the coin reserve of the Note Guarantee Fund, 
which hitherto they had been only able to hold tempor- 
arily for the purchase of silver or investments. At the 
end of 1907 there had been a run on the Currency 
Commissioners in Singapore, and the gold reserve had 
been rapidly exhausted. Exchange was maintained by 
selling telegraphic transfers on the Crown Agents 
against loan moneys advanced against the security 
of the Currency Commissioners' investments. Probably 
it was immaterial, then, where the gold was ; whether 
in London or Singapore our reserve would have run 
dry. But, as the Governor pointed out in Council, it 
was better to keep our gold in the proper place for it — 
London. Though unofficial opinion held that the 
proper place for it was where the notes were issued, 
Government won the day, and it can hardly be denied 
that they had the better of the argument, and acted 

In 191 3 a new Currency Bill was introduced, and 
though it was passed in 191 5, it has not, owing to the 
War, yet been put into force. The chief feature of this 
Bill was the creation of one fund to take the place of the 
three funds, namely, the Note Guarantee Fund, the 
Depreciation Fund, and the Gold Standard Reserve 
Fund, which are now in operation. 

The proportions of silver and gold were also to be 
altered, as follows : 

Present law Proposed law 

Silver, one-sixth of note issue. One-fifth of note issue. 

Gold, one-third of note issue. Three-tenths of note issue. 

Securities, one-half of note issue. One-half of note issue. 

The Great War brought more currency troubles ; 
silver rose to a height which made it profitable to melt 
the dollar ; the " impregnable basis" of ten years before 
was no more. An Ordinance was passed, in 191 7, 
relieving the Commissioners from the obligation to pay 
out dollars for notes. Later, our subsidiary silver 


vanished in a miraculous way, and, as a result of a 
Commission of Enquiry, it was resolved to reduce still 
further the fineness to 400, and, as a temporary measure, 
to issue twenty-five-cent and ten-cent notes. At the 
same time it was decided to reduce the fineness of the 
dollar to 600. 

This is how matters now stand ; and one of the 
questions for future consideration is, whether it is 
necessary to hold such a large proportion as one-fifth 
of our reserve in silver. The dollar note has ousted the 
metal coin in popular favour. There is, in normal times, 
little or no demand for a silver dollar ; in abnormal 
times, when dollars are demanded. Government with- 
holds them. The reserves against our note issue are 
very strong, and there is little fear now of any serious 
breakdown in our currency scheme. In view of the fact 
that, twenty-three years ago, unofficial opinion was so 
jealous of any interference with the Banks' note issues, 
it is of interest to reflect that at that time there were in 
circulation some $6,000,000 bank-notes, while to-day 
this is reduced to $164,000 — whereas the Government 
issue has attained the enormous total of over $80,000,000. 


In the hmits of this short history of the " Commerce 
and Currency " of the last hundred years, it has been 
found impossible to include statistics showing the details 
and the ramifications of the trade of Singapore ; and 
little reference has been made to the various articles 
of merchandise which are dealt in. 

One word, however, must be said with regard to 
rubber, which is now such a large factor in the trade of 
the port. When it was first suggested that rubber 
auctions should be started here, under the sheltering wing 
of the Chamber of Commerce, mercantile opinion was 
by no means unanimous as to the prospect of success — 
the powerful interests behind Mincing Lane terrorised 
some. However, we went ahead, and now it can be 
safely said that Singapore will, under wise guidance, ever 


remain as it is now, pre-eminently the rubber market 
of the world; 51,161 tons were offered at the auctions 
in 1918, of which 31,665 tons were sold. In addition to 
the rubber sold at the auctions, the business done by 
private treaty is increasing rapidly. In the twelve 
months ending the 30th September 191 8 the value of 
rubber exported from Singapore was $1 53,45 5, 920 out 
of a total trade of $512,229,753, a tonnage of well 
over 100,000 tons, easily surpassing tin, which used 
to be the article of most value handled here. 

In closing we cannot do better than set down an 
extract from a letter of Sir Stamford Raffles to the mer- 
chants of Singapore, written on the eve of his final 
departure from the Colony : 

" It has happily been consistent with the policy of 
Great Britain and accordant with the principles of the 
East India Company that Singapore should be estab- 
lished a Free Port ; that no sinister, no sordid view, 
no considerations either of political importance or 
pecuniary advantage should interfere with the broad 
and liberal principles on which the British interests 
have been established." 

These are notable words, and they set up for us a high 
standard of what our policy in these Eastern Seas 
should be. Let us ponder before we commit ourselves 
to any course of action which would in any way pre- 
judice the traditional policy of maintaining inviolate 
the freedom of the Port of Singapore. 


By the late J. R. Brooke 

At the very beginning of the Colony revenue from 
opium and spirits was to the fore. On the 2nd November 
1 819 the Resident proposed to put restrictions on the 
sale of these articles. In the following March Raffles 
wrote from Bencoolen that he thought this highly 
objectionable, although there were Farms at Penang 
and Malacca. The Farms, however, were sold, and four 
opium shops yielded $395 a month, arrack produced 


$i6o, and gaming-tables $95. The money was spent 
in paying the pohce, the Assistant Resident, and the 
Tumunggong for assisting in pohce duties. Mr. Craw- 
furd, Resident, in 1823 estabhshed, instead of a monopoly 
in favour of an individual, licences for each branch of the 
revenue. The sale produced $2,960 for opium, $1,540 
for arrack, and smaller sums for pork, gunpowder, and 
pawnbrokers, the licence for gaming having been 
abohshed, although Mr. Crawfurd argued that it was 
" an amusement and recreation which the most indus- 
trious of them (the Chinese) are accustomed to resort 
to. Having few holidays and scarcely any amusements 
besides, they consider being debarred from gaming as a 
privation and a violence in some measure offered to their 
habits and manners." And he pointed out that it 
would lead to clandestine play, a source of temptation 
and corruption to the inferior officers of the police. In 
1824 the opium farm fetched $23,100, spirits $10,980, 
gaming $26,112. In 1841 the opium farm was let for 
$6,250 a month, the spirit farm for $3,750, the gaming 
farm having been dropped, although there were frequent 
attempts made to prove that regulation was better 
than corruption. By 1855 the opium farm was let for 
Rs. 27,100 a month and the spirit farm for Rs. 9,510. 
The monopoly continued to increase in value. In 1 867 
the regular opium steamers ran monthly from Calcutta : 
two arrived in January in that year, the Clan Alpine, 
seven days, and the Thunder seven. These two, and the 
Arratoon A pear and Catherine A pear, served the first sales, 
the second coming by the Reiver, Lightning, and John 
Bright. In 1903 the opium and spirit farm paid 
$470,000 a month, on a three years' letting. In 1909 
the Farmers of the day were in arrears, and the Govern- 
ment entered into possession, but withdrew the following 
week, on terms arranged. 

Things became so unsatisfactory later in the year that, 
in view of the report of the Opium Commission, which 
was completed in 1908, certain enquiries were made with 
a view of ascertaining whether Government could not 


take over and run the Farms themselves upon business 
methods and under scientific control. Cassandras at 
once commenced to point out the difficulties and bewail 
the prospective ruin of the Colony. However, towards 
the end of the year the Monopolies Department was 
formed to manufacture and sell chandu in the three 
Settlements from the ist January 1910. Mr. F. M. 
Baddeley, then on leave, was recalled to organise and 
take charge of this new department, and the chandu 
factory at Teluk Blanga was put under Mr. J. R. Brooke, 
then Government Analyst at Penang. For the first 
seven months of the year the factory at Penang was kept 
running under charge of Mr. J. C. Cowap, but in May 
1 9 10, for the purposes of economy, the cooking there was 
stopped, and the whole of the requirements of the Colony, 
F.M.S., and Johore, Kedah, Pedis, Kelantan, and 
Trengganu have since been met from the Teluk Blanga 
factory, ensuring a chandu of uniform standard quality 
throughout the Peninsula, an advantage in itself, and 
also serving to aid in the detection of contraband, which 
in the old days was merely judged by the odour on 
burning, and on the absolute judgment of the Farm 
tester, instead of by analysis. 

In spite of the suspicion inherent in the Chinaman, and 
some uncertainty at any new departure, the Department 
has undoubtedly justified its existence ; indeed, it is 
doubtful if the Government could now do without it. 
From year to year its usefulness has been demonstrated, 
and other Governments have followed the example of 
the Straits. 

The policy of the Government has been to reduce the 
consumption of opium by gradually raising the price to 
consumers, at periods which for obvious reasons must 
be irregular. Thus in 1909 the price per tahil (ij oz.) 
was $3, whereas in 191 9 it had risen to $10. In the same 
way the Indian Government, by reducing the quantity 
of raw opium for sale, has progressively raised the price of 
the raw material from which the chandu is prepared. In 
1909 the average price per chest was $920, whilst to-day 


it is in the region of $2,500. This poHcy, while decreasing 
the consumption of chandu, simultaneously increases 
the revenue from it, thus conferring a double benefit. 
On the other hand, the consumption of alcoholic liquors 
has greatly risen during the last ten years, in spite of 
increased duties ; nor must the tendency to revert to the 
injection of morphia, and its still worse companion 
cocaine, be ignored on the other side of the balance-sheet. 

High prices always tend to stimulate smuggling of the 
dutiable article, and the ingenuity of the Chinese (and 
occasionally others) in connection with smuggled goods 
has been marked. There is quite an interesting 
little museum growing up at the MonopoUes Office in 
Cecil Street of various receptacles and methods employed 
by detected smugglers captured by the Preventive 
Service (first started under Mr. J. A. Howard, and now 
under Mr. W. H. Taylor, both ex-chief detective inspec- 
tors). The devices vary from false soles of shoes, the 
" flock " of a mattress, upon which the smuggler was 
lying, and unconsciously gave himself away when the 
heat of his body caused the pronounced odour of the 
drug to be detected, to the linings of deck chairs, one 
of which, accidentally knocked over by a chinting 
(searcher), started bleeding chandu at the joints. 

More recently, in 1 9 1 6, the Monopolies Department had 
assigned to it the collection of the tobacco duty — from 
its inception it has had to look after the Liquors 
Ordinance — and possibly other fields of usefulness may 
hereafter be assigned to it. The magnitude of the 
operations of the MonopoHes may be judged from the 
fact that the opium revenue was over eight million 
dollars in 1914, the liquors revenue being two millions. 


It is doubtful if there is a more annoying person on 
the face of the earth than he who flatters himself that 
he takes " an intelligent interest " in subjects beyond 
his comprehension ; and probably the political agitators, 


led by the late Sir Robert Laidlaw, and Mr. Samuel 
Smith, another M.P., were about the limit in their 
ignorance of the opium question. At the same time, 
it was undoubtedly due to their persistent efforts that 
this Opium Commission was appointed. 

Before details are entered into, it may be remarked 
that the man in the street appears to be quite incapable 
of differentiating between opium smoking (which is as 
harmless as tobacco smoking) and opium swallowing^ or 
the subcutaneous injection of the highly poisonous 
alkaloids to be obtained therefrom. In fact they appear 
to be convinced that the mere smell of opium leads to 
those deviHsh conditions narrated by de Quincey in his 
Confessions of an Opium Eater. Anyhow, the local 
Government was ordered from home to appoint a Com- 
mission " to enquire into matters relating to the use 
of opium in the Straits Settlements." (Later this was 
extended so as to include the F.M.S.) 

This Commission was presided over by one of the most 
level-headed business men then residing in Singapore, the 
Honourable Mr. (now Sir) John Anderson, of Messrs. 
Guthrie and Co., for many years a member of the Legisla- 
tive Council and Past President of the Chamber of Com- 
merce. The other Commissioners only have to have their 
names put down to show how thoroughly representative 
they were : The Hon. Dr. D. J. Galloway, M.L.C. (who has 
now returned to the Colony), and Dr. W. R. C. Middleton 
(representing the medical profession) ; the Rev. Bishop 
W. F. Oldham (a very acceptable, efficient, and highly 
esteemed representative of the Church) ; the late Mr. E. F. 
H. EdHn (a rising lawyer) and the Hon. Mr. Tan Jiak Kim, 
who capably represented the Chinese community ; whilst 
Messrs. Alex. Cavendish and A. M. Pountney (the present 
Colonial Treasurer) acted at various times as Secretaries, 
with the appreciated assistance of Mr. R. D. Davies (of 
the Singapore Free Press) as official shorthand writer. 
Unfortunately Mr. Davies was unable to accompany the 
Commissioners to Penang, and they appear to have had, 
judging from the official report, a very poor, to say the 


least, reporter in Penang. His name is not mentioned ; 
but some very scathing remarks are made over and over 
again concerning his dilatoriness ; and, after all, a man 
who takes shorthand notes and fails to give his trans- 
cription inside of seven and a half months, in spite of 
remonstrances, can scarcely be called a " hustler " ! 
Indeed, some " transcriptions " have not yet arrived I 

The Commission met fifty-four times altogether, and 
examined ninety-four persons, of all grades of the Com- 
munity, who were deemed capable of giving any 
information relevant to the subject ; and for this purpose 
sat not only in Singapore, but journeyed to Penang, 
Taiping, Ipoh, and Kuala Lumpur. 

The witnesses included no less than twenty-one nomi- 
nated by missionaries or anti-opium societies (by the way, 
the writer can vouch for the fact that anti-opium 
" remedies " are usually composed of, or at least 
contain, as the principal constituent, morphine), and no 
less than six missionaries themselves gave evidence. 
Other witnesses included the Dutch Consul, the Coroner, 
no less than twelve medical practitioners, also miners, 
contractors, bank cashiers, merchants, representatives 
of insurance companies, rag-pickers, and rikisha coolies. 
The enquiry spread over fifteen months, so that no one 
can say that all sides were not heard, nor that things 
were hurried through without giving necessary time to 
probe and assess the evidence. 

The conclusions of the Commission were practically 
unanimous, and the President, in par. 8 of his final 
covering letter to the Hon. Colonial Secretary, states : 
" It will be seen that, except for the difference of opinion 
set out in Bishop Oldham's rider, all the Commissioners 
are unanimous in their findings on matters of principle, 
but hold divergent views on one point, which is purely 
a question of administrative detail." 

Reasons of space prevent the giving of their report in 
full, but the following digest may be of interest : 

With regard to the evidence generally, the Com- 
missioners were of opinion that it had been sufficiently 


exhaustive to give them a thorough insight into the 
circumstances surrounding the use of opium in the areas 
with which they have had to deal, and enabled them 
to formulate their conclusions, which, briefly stated, 

are : 

(i) Women, and boys under the age of fifteen, also 
members of other nationalities than the Chinese, scarcely 
smoke at all. 

(2) The consumption per head of the population 
showed a decrease in 1907 (the year the Commission 
sat) as compared with 1897, though in some intervening 
vears it had been higher. 

(3) That owing to the Farmers in the F.M.S. admittedly 
adulterating their chandu, comparison with the Straits 
Settlements was useless. 

(4) That Chinese coming to the Straits get better 
wages than in their own country, find they can afford 
the luxury, and start smoking chandu as their forebears 
always have done as far as history records. This 
tendency is probably further influenced by the lack of 
family life and home-ties ; the lack of healthy relaxation 
after strenuous labours ; its alleged sedative effect 
(which the writer would state, from personal experience, 
must be purely imaginary. He made his tests, as a 
matter of fact, for the purpose of supplying the Com- 
mission with all the information available, and smoked, 
for the first and last time, chandu in the approved style, 
no less than ten pipes one after the other. The only 
sensation he obtained was the Devil's own thirst, a throat 
like a roll of blotting-paper, also diarrhoea and a headache ; 
but there was an entire absence of sedative effect, and 
no desire for further indulgence). 

The Commissioners state that the purely physical 
effects are, so far as moderate smoking is concerned, 
relatively harmless. Further, that the number of 
" opium sots " is not large ; that life-insurance societies, 
with considerable experience of the insurance of Chinese 
lives, are willing, cceteris paribus, to accept, as first-class 
risks, Chinese who smoke as much as 1 16 grains of chandu 


per day, an amount far beyond the means of an ordinary 

(5) That though there is evidence which shows that 
preference is given to non-smokers amongst the coal- 
cooUe class, yet 60 per cent, of them are smokers, and 
Singapore comes second only to Port Said in rapidity of 

(6) Medical men (except those the Commissioners felt 
bound to draw attention to as obviously biassed, and 
exaggerating their evidence) were practically unanimous 
that opium smoking is relatively harmless ; that even 
where there is excessive indulgence there is no organic 
change in the body, though such excess may lead to 
functional disorders, emaciation, and loss of energy. 

(7) It is found proved that opium smoking is not 
hereditary, and, from concrete instances, they can state 
that smoking does not in any way prevent the smoker 
having a healthy family. 

(8) Moderate smoking prevails here, and excess is 
met with only in isolated instances ; the proportion of 
population who are smokers has decreased in recent 

(9) After taking all evidence, the Commissioners 
" were not convinced that, if deprived of opium, the 
Chinese would not resort to alcohol as a substitute." 

(10) Recommends Government taking full charge of 
the manufacture and distribution of chandu of uniform 
standard in order to prevent any adulteration or decep- 
tion ; that retailing shops be gradually reduced, and the 
acquisition of chandu by women and children should be 
made as difficult as possible. Price of chandu to be 
gradually increased to a prohibitive price to the majority, 
and the smoking of chandu dross to be prohibited 

(11) They consider " that the Chinese are quite capable 
of looking after their own affairs, and should be encour- 
aged to do so " ; and that Government interference 
should be as small as possible. They do not think that 
the indulgence in opium is sufficiently acute or wide- 


spread to justify legislative interference by way of 
prohibition ; nor has the state of pubhc opinion on the 
question reached the stage of rendering a policy of 
prohibition desirable or practicable. 

The Government very wisely adopted these recom- 
mendations, and are still carrying them out. 

By Dr. Gilbert E. Brooke 

If Singapore were famous for nothing else, its intimate 
pioneer connection with two of the most useful substances 
of modern life — gutta-percha and india-rubber — would 
endow it with a good claim to immortahty. 

For many years the inhabitants of certain districts in 
Malaya had used gutta to make moulded handles of 
krises, etc. ; and in the early 'Forties a Malay trader 
introduced it to Singapore in the form of riding whips. It 
was at once investigated by Dr. Montgomerie, the Senior 
Surgeon, S.S., and by the Naval Surgeon d'Almeida, 
who was so well known as a merchant in Singapore for 
many years. The latter was the first to bring it to the 
notice of scientific men in England when on a visit in 
April 1843, but the Asiatic Society, to whom he gave it, 
did not evince any enthusiasm, and contented themselves 
with sending a letter of thanks. At or about the same 
time Montgomerie sent someto the Bengal Medical Board, 
suggesting a possible use for surgical purposes. Whether 
they took it up does not transpire, but in 1845 he sent 
further samples to the Society of Arts in London, and 
was promptly given their gold medal. It was only six 
years later that Professor Wheatstone first used gutta- 
percha for coating submarine cables. 

Singapore's connection with rubber was no less remark- 
able. Dr. Colhns, who from 1874 to 1875 was in charge 
of Museum, Library, and Gardens, was already dis- 
tinguished by having published the first complete report 
on the rubber industry of Brazil ; and had been the first 


to introduce forest-rubber seed into England through 
Clements Markham in 1873. The seedlings sent to 
Calcutta died, as did the first sent to Singapore in 1876 
for the Superintendent, Mr. Murton. Another batch to 
Murton arrived safely the next year, and was planted 
in Singapore and Perak. Mr. Cantley propagated them, 
and got large numbers of trees to grow. Mr. Ridley 
prepared specimens of this cultivated rubber, and 
exhibited them locally in 1890, the first specimens of 
cultivated rubber ever shown to the public. The idea 
of any future for cultivated rubber was laughed at by 
everyone except Sir Joseph Hooker and Mr. Ridley. 
The latex was at first coagulated in cigarette tins. It 
was intended to get a sheet form, which would be easier 
to dry, but funds were not forthcoming, and so common 
enamelled iron plates were used, which turned out discs 
called by the trade " biscuit rubber." 

Singapore Island was originally covered with dense 
.jungle. Much of this was felled as time went on, but 
the names of many villages and districts are taken from 
trees now scarce, but doubtless plentiful fifty years ago. 
Such are : Kranji (Dialium) ; Changi {Balauo corpus) ; 
Tampenis {Sloetia sideroxylon) ; Tanjong Rhu, the Cape 
of Casuarinas ; Kampong Glam, the village of Melaleuca. 
Although much of the indigenous flora has been thus 
destroyed, most of the plants collected by Wallich in 
1 822 have been found. 

As cleared land has often been abandoned, there are 
large tracts covered with lalang (Imperata cylmdrica) ; 
fern {Gleichenia linearis) ; bracken (Pteris aquilina) ; 
or with Scleria in swampy spots. In waste ground near 
villages there are many widely distributed weeds which 
have been probably accidentally introduced in later 
periods, as very few are to be found in Wallich 's collec- 
tion. Two of these weeds are interesting, Clitoria 
cajanifolia and C/^omg<2ct//^a/<2, as being South American, 
but escaped in Java, and accidentally carried to Singa- 

The history of the Settlement shows that spasmodic 




interest has been taken in horticulture, and more sus- 
tained interest in agriculture. The story of the Botanic 
Gardens is resolved into three definite periods. The first, 
from 1822 to 1829, was an experimental venture under 
the aegis of Government. This was followed by a public 
eifort, which continued from 1836 to 1846. The third 
phase was in the nature of resuscitation in 1859, and has 
lasted to the present day. 

The first Botanic Garden was the outcome of the 
friendship between Sir Stamford Raffles and Nathaniel 
Wallich, M.D., Ph.D., the Superintendent of the Botanic 
Gardens at Calcutta. He was a Dane by birth. Born 
in Copenhagen on the 28th January 1786, he joined the 
Medical Service of the Danish Settlement at Serampore 
in 1807; and when that place was occupied by the 
East India Company in 181 3, he entered the Enghsh 
Service. He was invalided home in 1828, but returned 
to India some years later. He finally retired in 1847, 
and died in Gower Street, Bloomsbury, on the 28th April 
1854. His extensive travels of exploration in Nepal, 
Western Hindustan, Ava, and Lower Burma, and his 
numerous and important publications, brought him such 
rapid scientific distinction that he was elected an F.R.S. 
in 1829. His most important work was his Plantce 
Asiaticce Rariores, 3 vols., London, 1830-32. There 
is a portrait of him taken by Macguire in 1849, which 
was presented by Mr. H. N. Ridley to Raffles Museum. 
Mount Wallich, for many years a striking landmark 
between Tanjong Pagar and the town, is called after him. 
But little now remains of the hill, which has been used 
for purposes of reclamation. 

Sir Stamford, who had left Singapore on the 7th 
February 1819 for his mission to Acheen via Penang, 
had returned to his headquarters at Bencoolen by 
October, after another visit to Singapore in June. One 
of his first actions was to send a gardener named Dunn 
to take charge of the newly laid-out garden of Govern- 
ment House, on the slopes of Fort Canning. Dunn 
brought with him 125 nutmeg trees {Myristica fragrans) , 


1,000 nutmeg seeds, and 450 clove plants {Caryophyllus 
aromaticus). These were probably planted near the site 
of the present Masonic Hall, and gave rise to the nutmeg 
plantations, which were such a feature of Singapore 
until disease put a stop to their cultivation about 1855. 
In 1822 Wallich applied for leave to proceed to China 
on account of ill-health. He sailed by the H. C.'s ship 
Sir David Scott, bringing with him George Porter, the 
head overseer of the Calcutta Garden. Porter was left 
in Penang, where he was put in charge of the Botanic 
Garden which Dr. WaUich opened there in April 
1823. WalUch himself never got further than Singa- 
pore ; and, although only a visitor, he took some 
part in the public affairs of the youthful town. In 
October 1822 Raffles appointed him, together with a 
Dr. Lumsdaine, and Captain Salmond, the Harbour 
Master of Bencoolen, to form a Committee to report 
on the southern bank of the Singapore River, and its 
suitability, from a hygienic point of view, for building 

On the 2nd November Wallich addressed a long letter 
to Raffles, " relative to the expediency of establishing a 
Botanic and Experimental Garden on this Island." After 
pointing out the advantageous nature of the soil and 
climate, he recommended that a suitable piece of ground 
should be appropriated in the neighbourhood of the 
European town for the purposes of a botanic garden and 
for the experimental cultivation of the indigenous plants 
of Singapore. 

Sir Stamford, who was then in Singapore on his third 
and last visit (loth October 1822 to 9th June 1823), 
agreed to Wallich's suggestion, and asked him to choose 
an eligible site, which might include the Government 
Gardens on the slope of the present Fort Canning, 
where the nutmeg and clove trees had been planted in 
1 819. By the 20th November Wallich had staked out 
about forty-eight acres ; a grant for the land was issued 
on that date, and the first Botanic Gardens were an 
established fact. 


Wallich, however, left for Bengal by the John Adam 
in January, and all the arrangement and control of the 
Garden devolved on Assistant Surgeon Montgomerie. 
This early site, in terms of modern reference, extended 
from the Masonic Hall, past the old Fort Canning 
Cemetery, to the neighbourhood of the Y.W.C.A. build- 
ing, thence to Dhoby Ghaut, along Bras Basah Road to 
the Roman Catholic Cathedral, recurving by Victoria 
Street and Hill Street to the Armenian Church and the 
Masonic Hall. Raffles allowed a permanent establish- 
ment of one overseer and ten labourers ; and for the 
support of garden and staff a monthly sum of sixty 
dollars was sanctioned, a figure dubbed by Wallich 
as a " splendid donation." 

Dr. Montgomerie confined his attentions to keeping 
the site clear and planting spices. In 1827 he wrote a 
report on the Garden to John Prince, the Resident 
Councillor. Mr Prince seems to have taken some 
interest in botany, as Erycibe princei is named after him. 
The hill-side had been stepped with eighteen-foot ter- 
races, the low ground had all been drained, and roads 
had been made. But there were only 200 nutmegs in 
the nursery, and the clove trees had not fruited ; and 
not much could be done with the staff of eleven labourers 
and three convicts. The Resident Councillor then 
selected a gunner named George Hall to manage the 
Gardens, at a salary of twenty rupees, and allowed 
fifty rupees for building a hut to accommodate 
him ! 

The following year this was notified to India, with the 
remark that the Garden was not in good order under the 
gratuitous superintendence of Dr. Montgomerie ; but 
the Company replied that no extra expense was to be 
incurred. In consequence, on the 30th June 1829, the 
establishment was discontinued, after an existence of 
less than seven years, and ten convicts were told off to 
keep the place in order. 

The original grant was cancelled in July 1834 by 
sanction of the Governor-General, part of the site being 


given to the Armenians for a church and part to the 
Rev. Mr. Darrah for a school. Also, within a short 
time, much of the area had been absorbed by the great 
convict lines and hospital, which were so prominent a 
feature of the town for many years. 

Agriculture by this time was making considerable 
strides throughout the island ; but to their cost many were 
to find that the shrewd judgments of Crawfurd uttered 
in 1824 were to come only too true. He had said that 
there was no rich alluvial soil suitable for growing cotton, 
sugar-cane, indigo, cacao, mulberry, tobacco, clove, or 
nutmeg ; but that soil and climate were admirably 
adapted for coconut, mango, mangosteen, durian, pine- 
apple, certain vegetables such as egg-plant, yam, etc., 
and especially gambler and black pepper. 

The annual recurrence of the durian season has at 
least proved him correct in one particular. It might 
be mentioned that the taste of that beautiful fruit has 
been described by some unkind person as resembling 
sour cream which has passed through a dirty gas- 
pipe ! 

Jos6 d 'Almeida, who came from Macao in 1825, did 
much experimental work in planting and agriculture. 
He introduced cotton {Gossypium barbadense) ; vanilla 
{V. planifolia) ; and gamboge {Garcinia nanburii). 
None of these ventures flourished, though the cotton had 
a vogue for some years. His cotton seeds were obtained 
from North America, Brazil, Egypt, etc., and were planted 
out at Katong, and over what is now known as the 
'* Confederate Estate." The absence of proper seasons 
and too constant a rainfall killed it. Mr. T. O. Crane 
was also a cotton enthusiast, and had twenty acres 
planted in 1 836. The whole area produced only ten cwt. 
per annum, instead of the thirty-five cwt. expected, and 
was abandoned. 

Coffee {Caffea arabica) was another venture tried to 
some extent between 1833 and 1839. Charles Scott had 
1 ,000 plants at Lesudden ; Dunman had 30,000 at Holly 
Hill Estate ; and a Chinaman named Kong Chuan had 


fifty acres at Jurong. But the plants were not properly 
shaded when young, and they flowered and fruited 
continually so that no proper cropping season could be 
got, and the cultivation was abandoned. 

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), cocoa (Theo- 
broma cacao), indigo {Indigofera tinctoria) were all tried 
without success. Coconuts (Cocos nucifera) proved more 
promising, and in the 'Thirties there were 660 acres 
planted up, chiefly at Tanjong Katong and Blakan 
Mati, with about 50,000 trees. 

Pineapples {Ananas sativa) were plentiful from an early 
date until quite recently, when many existing plantations 
were given up to rubber. When first cultivated, the 
industry was chiefly in the hands of Bugis settlers, who 
had plantations over most of the numerous islands round 
Singapore. If bought at the garden ten pines could 
be obtained for a cent in plentiful years in the 'Forties. 
When the vast gambler plantations throughout Singa- 
pore Island were worked out and abandoned about 1850, 
the pineapple industry began to be adopted by Chinese, 
and the vacated land again came into bearing until the 
advent of rubber. A reminiscence of the past came to 
light strangely only a few years ago. The island of 
East St. John's, or Lazarus Island as it is often called, 
has not been occupied within the memory of a living 
generation, except for temporary huts erected in 1899 
for beri-beri patients from the gaol. About six years 
ago, after an exceptional period of dry weather, the high 
bracken and scrub with which it was covered caught fire, 
and the entire island was burnt bare. This showed up 
the serried terraces with which the whole island was 
covered, a story of pineapples, forgotten for thirty or 
forty years. 

The need was early felt for some organisation to take 
charge of the growing agricultural interests of Singapore, 
and to resume the functions of the abandoned Govern- 
ment Garden. Consequently, on the 24th May 1836, 
a public meeting was called at the Reading Rooms, and 
it was then decided to start an Agricultural and Horti- 


cultural Society, with a member's subscription of $2 
a quarter. They were to meet at 7 p.m. on the first 
Saturday of each month, and the Committee elected 
consisted of the Governor as President, Messrs. Balestier, 
Montgomerie, d 'Almeida, and Brennand as members, 
and Mr. T. O. Crane as Secretary. Their first meeting 
was held on the ist June, with Dr. Montgomerie in the 

The Government of the day did very little to en- 
courage agriculture, and reasonable development was 
largely hindered owing to the fact that waste or vacant 
landwas notobtainableeither on long lease or bypurchase. 
One of the first acts of the newly formed Society was to 
point this out in a petition to the Governor-General. 
The preliminary response came in the form of a grant of 
seven acres to the Agri-Horticultural Society on the 19th 
November of the same year. The site given occupied 
a portion of the original forty-eight acres grant of 1822. 
Its area was approximately that which to-day is occupied 
by the St. Andrew's Mission property. Raffles Library 
and Museum, and the Government residence and Metho- 
dist Church which lie behind the Museum. 

The first annual meeting of the Society was held in 
May 1837, Dr. T. Oxley in the chair ; and it was then 
decided not to increase the economic section, but to make 
the horticultural garden their chief care. In addition 
to the subscription of members, the nutmeg trees were 
able to contribute considerably to the Society's funds, 
the receipts during the year 1838 amounting to $269.92, 
and the upkeep expenses only to $74.99. 

For the following nine years very little is heard of the 
Society or its gardens. Dr. Griffith was in charge of the 
latter in 1844 ; but the Society seems to have become 
defunct about 1 846, and the garden site was presumably 
resumed by Government. 

The agriculture of Singapore was, however, beginning 
to assume a considerable importance, as will be seen 
from the following table, which refers to the year 





of ^rees. 


per acre. 








Cloves . 























Pepper . 










Sugar-cane, . 
Pineapples, etc. 

1,562 / 














The gambler {Uncaria gambir) and pepper culti- 
vation began early in the history of the Settlement, 
and was carried out entirely by Chinese. The former 
is a plant which looks like brushwood of three years' 
growth. The leaves are collected three times a year. 
They are then boiled, and the yellow precipitated 
matter is collected and cut into cubes of ij inches, 
being used in commerce as a tanning agent, and in 
medicine as an astringent under the name of catechu. 
The cultivation of pepper {Piper nigrum) was carried on 
by the gambler planters, who used the refuse gambler 
leaves as manure to the pepper vines, which were trained 
on tampenis posts. Three acres of pepper were usually 
allowed for thirty of gambler. Unfortunately gambler 
is a crop which exhausts the soil in about fifteen years ; 
and, by 1850, the eight hundred estates in Singapore 
were rapidly beginning to fail, which had the result of 
gradually sending the gambler planters to Johore. 

A novel use for gambler was suggested by a local 
shipwright named Clunls in 1849. It. appears that a 
ship named the Ocean Queen, with a general cargo, but 
chiefly gambler, was wrecked near Singapore in December 
1 848. After being four months in nine fathoms of water, 
Mr. Clunis found the whole upper deck riddled with 
live barnacles. Directly the gambler was opened up 
n — 6 


and dissolved in the surrounding water, the barnacles 
were promptly killed. After further experiment, Mr. 
Clunis evolved a composition of gambier, lime, and 
damar oil for protecting boat bottoms and other 
immersed timber ; and Mr. J. C. Drysdale suggested 
that it might be of use also against white ants. 

The cultivation of sugar-cane aroused considerable 
attention about this time, consequent on a modification 
of terms of land-taxes and a prospect of diminution of 
duties on sugar. Canes were first imported by Mr. 
Joaquim d 'Almeida in 1846. The European cultivation 
never exceeded 400 acres, and was chiefly in the district 
to the left of Serangoon Road, where the Balestier Rifle 
Range is now situated. Both Mr. Balestier and Mr. 
Wilham Montgomerie, junior (son of Dr. Montgomerie), 
tried to manufacture sugar on a considerable scale : 
Balestier's plant was run by a steam-engine, Mont- 
gomerie 's by water-power. Montgomerie 's plantation 
was situated on the far side of Kallang Stream, and was 
called " Kallang Dale." Mr. R. C. Woods afterwards 
built a house there, and called it " Woodsville." The 
usual output from one hundred pikuls of raw sugar was 
fifty-five pikuls of dry sugar and 400 gallons of rum. 
The industry was killed chiefly because Singapore was 
denied the privilege accorded to Province Wellesley of 
having her sugar and rum imported into the home 
markets at a reduced duty. 

In October i8S9 a movement was once again made 
by the public to start an Agri-Horticultural Society, and 
the early Colonial records show that the Government 
again allotted the ground on Fort Canning which had 
been given to the previous Society in 1 836, and gave some 
convicts to keep it in order. One can only imagine 
that promoters raised objections to so small a site with 
such a dismal history ; for, two months later, it was 
announced in the Press that an eligible site of nearly 
sixty acres at Tanglin, belonging to Whampoa, 
had been obtained from him by the Government, in 
exchange for a quantity of swampy ground on the banks 


of the Singapore River. Whether Whampoa scored 
or not by his exchange history does not relate ; but 
the Singapore pubhc have certainly reason to be thankful, 
for they thereby gained access to the larger portion of 
the fine gardens which they possess to-day. 

Members were enrolled on paying $25, and a monthly 
subscription of $1. Second-class subscribers had the 
use of the Gardens for $1 .25 a month, but the pubhc had 
free entry on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. 
The large Committee of fourteen, with the Governor as 
Chairman, was increased to twenty-one in September 
1 860 — probably for the sake of getting all the influence 
possible. Their efforts were certainly popular, for while 
they hoped eventually to benefit agriculture, their first 
object was to create a pleasure-garden which might serve 
as a rival to the Esplanade, where they had so long 
doubtless gossiped and flirted during their evening drive. 
The main entrance was in Cluny Road, by what we now 
call the Office Gate Road, and the crest of the hill, to 
which the road led, was the first part of the garden to be 
developed. Here a bandstand was erected, and the 
hill-side was terraced and laid out with flower-beds and 
stands under the superintendence of Mr. Niven, junior, 
whose staff consisted of a mandore, ten coolies, and 
ten convicts, housed in lines on the site of the present 

The band was a regimental one, and played twice a 
month. At first the Committee were a little doubtful 
as to the heavy expense of fourteen dollars a month 
which it entailed, but they thought, on mature considera- 
tion, that it was a legitimate expenditure in that it 
might add to the number of subscribers ! 

While the Garden was thus under construction, the 
Society organised flower-shows to encourage local culti- 
vation. The first one was held in a tent on the 
Esplanade, on the 27th July 1861, and another in 
December, at which fruit and vegetables also were shown. 

The further development of the Garden was becoming 
urgent, and so the Society made a new entrance — the 


present main gate — and proceeded to develop the 
neighbouring southern section during 1863 and 1864. 
The work was carried out by young Niven's father, Mr. 
Lawrence Niven, who was the superintendent of an 
adjoining nutmeg plantation. This, however, was a 
strain on the resources of the Societ}'', so they held a 
" horticultural fete and fancy fair " on the 28th 
December 1864 to increase their funds, and they got 
the Government to bear the cost of the main gate. The 
fancy fair was held in the mess-house of Tanghn Barracks, 
then unoccupied, and probably proved successful, 
for another fete was held in the same place in May 
1866. It might be mentioned that on the i6th August 
1906 a Singapore Agri-Horticultural Show was opened 
by H.E. the Governor on Raffles Reclamation Ground, 
the last of the kind during the century. In March 1866 
an addition had been made to the Garden, when Mr. 
Leveson, as Trustee of the Society, bought for $1,700 a 
contiguous block of twenty-four acres on which to build 
a house for the Superintendent and some nurseries and 
coolie lines. 

The Government of India had now found out the gift 
of seven years before, and they issued a grant for the 
original fifty-five acres on the 27th October. Meanwhile 
Lawrence Niven found that the service demanded of 
him by his growing charge was inadequately paid for, 
and he asked for a rise of salary of $50 a month. This 
was refused by the Indian Government, but was duly 
paid by the Society. 

The Superintendent's house, on the land newly acquired 
from Adam Wilson, was constructed with bricks supplied 
from the Government kilns at cost price ; and, in con- 
nection with the site, the present Garden Road was made, 
which added a narrow strip to the old area near the 
coolie lines. On this new strip and on the site of the 
coolie lines the existing lake was excavated in 1866.. 
The Government allowed the services of sixty prisoners 
from the House of Correction ; but as^there were so few 
prisoners in gaol at the time, only ten to thirty were 


available, and the work had to be completed by Chinese 

Up to this time the Society had had two Secretaries : 
firstly Mr. J. E. Macdonald, and secondly Mr. E. S. 
Leveson. The third Secretary, in 1867, Mr. C. H. H. 
Wilsone, was less fortunate than his predecessors, and 
left the Gardens with a debt of over S700 on the contract 
for the Superintendent's house. When their financial 
position was reaUsed, the Comrnittee prevailed on the 
Government to increase their monthly grant from $50 
to $100 ; but Governor Sir Harry Ord only sanctioned 
this on the understanding that living economic plants 
should be exhibited for the benefit of enquiring travellers. 
At the same time he suggested the formation of a Zoo as 
an educational attraction, and offered to present some 

Dr. Little, however, stated in Council on the 24th 
December 1 874 that the Society had not grown economic 
plants as required by their compact, and that their 
interest was dying. That this was indeed the case was 
proved by a resolution forwarded to Government on the 
13th August 1874, asking that the Gardens might be 
taken over by Government, which was finally effected on 
the 7th November. 

For a short time the Garden was placed under the 
control of the Committee of Raffles Museum and Library, 
which Institution had also been taken over by Govern- 
ment not long before. The Curator had arrived that year. 
He was a Dr. James CoUins, who had been Curator of the 
Museum of the Pharmaceutical Society, and had been 
chosen by Sir Joseph Hooker. He was an expert on 
rubber, and had been responsible for introducing the 
first rubber seed to England through Clements Markham 
in 1873. He started a journal in July 1875, the /ojirna/ 
of Eastern Asia, which was intended to appear quarterly 
and take the place of Logan's Journal, long defunct ; 
but only one number appeared. His idea of a local 
commercial museum was carried out only forty-four 
years later, and then by Japanese. 


Dr. Collins left Singapore about 1 877, but his temporary 
control of the Gardens had ceased two years previously, 
when Henry James Murton had come out from Kew 
Gardens (at the age of only twenty) to take charge as 
Superintendent. The latter brought many plants from 
Ceylon, and with later supplies from Kew, Mauritius, 
Brisbane, etc., the Agri-Horticultural Society's Park was 
at last converted into a proper Botanic Garden. Mr. 
Niven was retained with the title of Manager, but died 
when on leave shortly afterwards. A man named 
William Krohn was employed by the Committee to 
build up the collection of animals. Mr. Murton was 
the first to plant para-rubber trees in Singapore and 
Perak, and published reports on native rubbers and 
gutta-perchas. He left the Gardens in 1 879, and obtained 
an appointment under the King of Siam in 1881, but 
died the same year by falling from a window in the 
palace. Niven was replaced by a head gardener from 
England, named George Smith, but he died in about a 

Walter Fox was appointed in June 1879 as Assistant 
Superintendent to Murton, and did most excellent work 
in the Garden for many years, retiring only in 19 10 when 
the appointment he then held, Superintendent of Forests 
and Gardens at Penang, was abolished. 

Meanwhile the story of the Zoo must not be omitted. 
Immediately it was generally known that the Govern- 
ment would maintain a collection of animals in the 
Gardens, gifts poured in. Sir Andrew Clarke presented 
a two-horned rhinoceros. Sir Ernest Birch a sloth bear, 
Captain Kirk two orang-utans, the Acclimatisation 
Society in Melbourne an emu, one great kangaroo, three 
red kangaroos, and a bushy-tailed wallaby, all in 1875. 
In 1876 the King of Siam gave a leopard, and the 
Sultan of Trengganu a tiger. By 1877 they had 144 
exhibits, and the expenditure far exceeded the Govern- 
ment grant. At first two privates of a regiment 
stationed in Singapore were employed as keepers ; 
then, in 1876, a Mr. Capel, for whom a small house was 


built below the aviary, but he was dismissed because 
he wanted more pay. Chinese were next employed as 
keepers, and then Javanese. 

There were big losses amongst the animals. For 
instance, one night in 1876 some reprobate killed the 
emu, a bear, and a cassowary. In 1877 the rhinoceros 
and tw^o kangaroos died, and in 1 878 both of the leopards. 
This decided the Committee to keep only birds and small 
animals. So they sent the tiger and orang-utan and 
other animals to Calcutta in exchange for some Indian 

The shrivelled Zoo kept up a precarious existence until 
1905, when the last occupant was sold. Its fame was 
not realised until after its abolition, when, in the follow- 
ing year, nearly 2,000 globe-trotters are said to have 
visited the Gardens to see it, and left in disgust, as there 
was nothing else to see in Singapore ! 

Nathaniel Cantley succeeded Murton as Superintendent 
of the Garden in November 1 880. He had been attached 
to Kew Gardens, and had also been Assistant Superin- 
tendent of the Botanic Gardens in Mauritius. He w^as 
not strong, but got through an immense amount of 
work. The Economic Gardens were founded by him on 
ground formerly belonging to the military authorities, 
which had been the site of the camp of a West Indian 
regiment. He originated the Forest Department, and 
made the first proper herbarium in Singapore. At the 
end of 1887 his health broke down, and he died in 
Australia when on leave. 

He was succeeded by Mr. H.N. Ridley, M.A. (Oxon), 
F.L.S., in November 1888. The services of Mr. Ridley, 
who retired in 191 1, are too recent to be reviewed at 
length. Suffice it to say that his fine herbarium and his 
indefatigable literary contributions to botanical science 
throughout a career of practically a quarter of a century 
in Singapore were recognised by an F.R.S. in 1907, a 
C.M.G. in 191 1, and the gold medal of the Rubber 
Growers* Association in 19 14. 

The present holder of the post is Mr. I. H. Burkill, 


M.A. (Cantab.), F.L.S., late of the Botanic Gardens in 
Calcutta, and formerly a Principal Assistant at Kew 
Gardens, who assumed his duties in the Straits Settle- 
ments in October 191 2. 


Anecdotal History of Singapore, C. B. Buckley, 1902. 

Journ. Str. Br. Roy. Asiatic Soc. : No. 33, Jan. 1900 ; No. 65, Dec. 

Gardens Bulletin S.S., vol. ii. No. 2, Aug. 1918 ; vol. ii, No. 3, Nov. 

Journ. Ind. Archip., vol. i, 1847 ; vol. iii, 1849 ; vol. ix, 1855. 
Early Col. Records, vols. 93, loi, 103, 195, 220, 229, 310, 334, 671, 

751. 911. 
Proc. Leg. Co., 1878, App. 32. 
Diet. Nat. Biography LIX. 


The work of Henry Nicholas Ridley in the Colony 
extends from the 25th September 1888, when he was 
appointed to be Director of Forests and Gardens, to 1 9 1 1 , 
when he retired. Born the loth December 1855, he 
was educated at Haileybury and Exeter College, Oxford, 
taking his M.A. degree and winning the Burdett-Coutts 
Geological Scholarship. From 1880 to 1888 Mr. Ridley 
was assistant in the Botanic Department, BritishMuseum, 
and his connection with the Museum, keeping touch 
with the work there and its personnel, has been of the 
greatest benefit to the Colony. In 1886 he undertook 
a trip to Brazil for the Royal Society, and came out to 
the Straits in 1888. He received the C.M.G. in 191 1. 

Mr. H.N. Ridley's work for the Royal Asiatic Society, 
Straits Branch, is contemporaneous with his becoming 
a member in 1 890. The time was critical for the Society, 
as the early interest had died out and new members had 
not come forward. Mr.. Ridley's interesting personality 
and wide scientific sympathies soon gave birth to a new 
order of things. He was Honorary Secretary from 1890 
to 1893, ^rid again from 1897 to 191 1, when he retired 
and was made an honorary member. Writing fluently 


n. 78] 


on such diverse subjects as '* A Stone Implement in 
Singapore," " A Day in the Cocos," " On the Habits of 
the Karinga," " The Earthquake of 1892," " List of 
Mammals recorded from Penang," he made all branches 
of scientific work interesting, his qualifications including 
Corresponding Member of the Pharmaceutical Society 
and Ethnological Society of Moscow, Member of the 
Zoological Society and of the Society for Psychical 
Research, Fellow of the Linnean Society, the Royal 
Horticultural Society, Society of Arts, and of the Royal 
Society. His work in the East has largely been connected 
with his special subject of botany, and his work in con- 
nection with the flora of the Malay Peninsula can per- 
haps only be properly appreciated by scientists. He 
was always ready to discuss horticulture and economic 
botany, and is a most interesting conversationalist. 

By H. Price 

Planting on the island of Singapore dates back to 
our early occupation ; and many kinds of crops have 
been tried, and have not all been successful ; but in spite 
of failures, it has not discouraged the trial of still further 
plants. The soil, on the whole, is not very good, but the 
rainfall, being rather equally distributed over the year, 
is a help to certain kinds of planting, though a regular 
dry season (which we do not get) is necessary to others. 
More of the fruits we eat could be grown here, and of 
better quality, but there does not seem much incHnation 
to plant fruit gardens. This is a pity, as the fresher 
fruit is the better. 

The planting of gambler {Uncaria gambir) seems to 
have commenced in the island as early as 18 19. An 
extract is made from it by macerating the leaves and 
twigs ; this makes an unholy-looking mass, which is 
used principally for tanning. To see a gang of coolies 
working at pressing and packing this article might 


make you think that they would never come clean 
again ; but most Hkely it is not a bad thing for them, 
as they certainly have to take a very complete bath 
to get rid of the stuff. For a time the planting of 
gambler extended rapidly up to 500 estates, inter- 
planted with a certain amount of pepper, as the waste 
in the manufacture of gambler makes an excellent 
manure for the pepper vine. As the supplies of fuel 
became scarce, the number of plantations fell off, so 
that by 1850 there were only 400, and in 1866 they 
were rapidly disappearing ; but there was later another 
rally, because more labour was imported, and the 
demand from Europe became stronger; so that by 1870 
the amount exported was up to 34,550 tons, about half 
of which had been grown on the island. From then 
onwards it steadily increased ; but though in 1 892 there 
was an export of 56,303 tons, very little of it was 
growm on the island. Gambler is very exhausting to 
the soil, and no doubt that was the principal reason 
why it was given up. The cultivation died out slowly, 
and up to the 'Nineties there w^ere still some gambler 
and pepper gardens in the western part of the island, 
but none now exists. In 1883 the price went up, and 
this induced Europeans to go in for its culture ; but 
they stood no chance in this line of business in com- 
petition with the Chinese. The European is very much 
handicapped when working with Chinese coolies, as 
their own countrymen get more out of them and at a 
cheaper rate. The Chinese also manage so that most 
of the wages which the coolies are paid come back 
through their hands as payment for opium, food, and 
clothes. They, of course, understand the character of 
the Chinese coohe better than we do, and to-day much 
of the work done by Chinese on rubber estates is done 
through Chinese contractors. The cutting off of the 
pigtail does not so far seem to have changed the attri- 
butes of the Chinese very much, except to make him 
far less picturesque. He is by nature quite a good 
planter, and where modern science does not come in. 


his lower expenses usually enable him to beat the 
European ; and he is wilKng to copy an idea when he 
is convinced he can make more money by doing so, but 
he is slow to change. 

As mentioned above, pepper was planted in conjunc- 
tion with gambier, and naturally it died out with it, 
though the name *' Singapore black pepper " is still 
known in many of the world's markets. This qualit}^ 
is not in nearly such good odour as it used to be, a fact 
largely to be traced to the manipulations of the article 
by the Chinese merchants who buy and prepare most 
of it, and sell it to the European merchants. I have 
often had pepper to sell direct from the plantations, 
and the Chinese would pay no more than the European 
merchants ; they then prepared it, and sold it to the 
European merchants at a profit. European merchants 
have not been willing to buy up the stocks and hold 
them as the Chinese have, or thoroughly to learn the 
trade, and thus see that they received what they ought 
to have. 

Singapore gets the produce of adjacent places ; so 
with the decrease of gambier and pepper on the island, 
the Chinese planted near by, and in 1895 Johore had 
3,760 acres planted, mostly with coffee, pepper, and 
gambier, and some 4,000 acres in Cucob with sago and 
coco-nuts. There were at times around the district a 
certain number of European planters : J. R. Watson 
and S. W. Moorhouse at Batu Pahat ; J. H. M. Staples 
(Cambus) ; W. W. Bailey (Pengarang) ; J. Halliday (Loon 
Choo) ; H. O. Rowe (Pulo Layang) ; and on Singapore 
Island J. W. Angus was in charge of 300 acres of coco- 
nuts in Bedok. The Chasseriau Land and Planting Co. 
was in liquidation. R. Dunman was at Grove Estate 
with 400 acres of coconuts, and C. H. Allen was Manager 
of Perseverance Estate, Gaylang, containing 450 acres 
planted with citronella, patchouli, and pineapples. 
There were also quite a number of small estates, mostly 
devoted to fruit-growing. At Pulo Obin C. E. St. G. 
Caulfield was manager of a Liberian coffee estate of 


200 acres, and up in the States at Krian about 1 8,000 acres 
were under sugar, only four Europeans being employed, 
the rest being Chinese. So that at that time Malaya 
was finding billets for only a handful of Europeans, 
who were planting various products which have since 
mostly died. The rise of the rubber-planting industry 
has found employment for a large number of Europeans. 
You might now ask many Europeans in Singapore 
what a nutmeg tree is Hke, and they could not tell 
you ; but time back the planting of this spice was an 
important industry in Singapore and the Straits, and 
Singapore Island had quite extensive nutmeg gardens. 
This tree was introduced in 181 8 (Dennys) ; by 1843 
there were about 43,500 trees, and in 1848 4,000,000 
nuts were produced. In 1843 the district of Tanglin 
consisted of barren-looking hills covered with short 
brushwood and lalang. This was the result of the 
deserted gambier plantations, and immediately on the 
inauguration of granting land in perpetuity in that 
year a large number of nutmeg trees were planted in 
this district. Dr. Montgomerie had a nutmeg garden 
of forty acres on the south side of Neil Road extending 
to Tanjong Pagar Road, and including the houses 
named Everton and Duxton ; the former was occupied 
in 1872 by the mess of the 19th Madras N.I. ; but by 
that time there could not have been many nutmeg 
trees left, as in 1 848 a curious disease of the nut, resem- 
bling leprosy in the human being (Dr. Little in /. /. A., 
vol. iii, p. 679), broke out in Penang, causing great 
havoc amongst the trees ; and in Singapore it did quite 
a lot of damage, and became so fatal that by 1 862 the 
cultivation of nutmegs had entirely ceased. An article 
was written in 1850 by Colonel Low on the nutmeg 
plantations of Singapore, so they were not quite gone 
at that time. The last talk of nutmegs seems to have 
been in 1880, when Mr. Cantley mentions that the 
plants in the Garden's nursery looked very promising, 
and seemed as if preparing for another cycle of satis- 
factory growth in the Settlements ; but this never seems 


to have been realised, and planting nutmegs is a thing 
of the past for Singapore. 

Tapioca {cassava ; Malay — Ubi kaya) was also a 
favourite cultivation of the Chinese here up to the 
'Eighties ; but it is a very exhausting crop, and the 
abandoned tapioca estates turned into the extensive 
stretches of lalang that formerly existed on the island, 
and only after a number of years returned to bluker 
undergrowth, which in due course has been mostly 
planted with rubber. In 1880 Trafalgar Estate had 
1,000 acres in tapioca. The planting of this crop in 
large blocks has died out, but it is still planted in small 
patches all over the island for food for the native 
population. It is said that exhausted tapioca ground 
takes fifteen years to recover. 

The sago palm never seems to have been grown very 
much here, and no doubt one reason is that it takes 
some twelve years to mature. The last block of this 
palm from which sago flour was made was at about the 
ninth mile at Changi Road, where a small business was 
carried on in this article, the flour being made by 
crushing the pith from the palm. There is still a sago 
factory in Singapore, but it is not supplied from palms 
grown on the island. 

Cotton has also been tried, but it is one of those 
things that this climate is not suitable for, as it requires 
a dry season for the pods to ripen and be gathered. It 
was tried by Mr. T. O. Crane, with Mr. Jose d 'Almeida 
and the late Babu Whampoa, in his coconut planta- 
tion facing the sea at Tanjong Katong, where he had 
samples of- the Capas murice, the Bourbon Mauritius 
variety. Mr. Crane got a number of varieties from 
his brother at Calcutta, but the trial was unsatisfac- 
tory, and the attempt to grow cotton was given up. 
There was quite a talk later of interplanting it with 
rubber, and a certain amount was tried by the Chinese, 
but again it was not successful. 

Before the days of synthetic indigo this plant was 
extensively cultivated by the Chinese twenty or thirty 


years ago on the low-lying ground at the west of 
Thomson Road, and a common sight on that road was 
a string of coolies carrying the thick liquid, giving out 
a terrible musty smell, in baskets lined with cloth that 
looked as if they must leak. Some indigo dyeing is 
still done in that quarter. 

Lemon grass (Malay — serai) is the plant from which 
citronella oil is extracted, a scent used largely in the 
manufacture of toilet soaps, and it seems to grow well 
here. There are small patches in various places ; but 
no attempt seems to be made to plant it on a com- 
mercial scale since the palmy days of Perseverance 
Estate, which was started by Mr. J. Fisher and carried 
on by Mr. C. Allen, the latter of whom, by the way, 
accompanied Mr. A. R. Wallace on his journeys through 
the Malay Archipelago. Perseverance Estate seems to 
have come to the end of its perseverance in the 'Nineties, 
but some of the children of Mr. Allen remain in the 

It will be seen that planting has been carried on 
during the hundred years that we have occupied the 
island, and at the present time I suppose more of the 
island is planted than ever before with rubber. 


By H. Price 

What I have to write about has Aothing to do with 
the wonderful growth of rubber planting in Malaya, but 
of a result that necessarily followed, namely, the trade 
in rubber done at Singapore. London was practically 
the rubber market of the world, and at the time of the 
flotation of many of the planting companies clauses 
were put in the Articles of Association giving the sale 
of their rubber exclusively for a number of years to 
certain English firms, some of which had branches out 
here, so that the whole tendency of these conditions 
was to keep the trade in London rather than Singapore. 


The rubber trade, therefore, grew very slowly here; 
and it was no wonder, when estates absolutely refused 
to sell rubber locally at any price, and practically all the 
early sales were made through London. One of the first 
I can trace was a sale made by Barlow and Co., early in 
1904, of Bukit Rajah biscuits at a price of $270 per pikul. 
Most of the rubber was not sold at all here, but was 
shipped to London for sale there. Some of the Chinese 
had planted quite early, and though most of their best 
estates were sold to London companies, some remained 
in Chinese hands, and others were turned into Singapore 
and Shanghai companies. In 1908 several firms, notably 
Guthrie's, began to sell rubber here, but the quantities 
were small ; also some Chinese sold at their shops the 
lower grades they were making. In 1910 Guthrie's, the 
largest European sellers, averaged about 7$ pikuls a 
month, and in 191 1 about 90 pikuls ; the highest price 
they reached was $640 per pikul in 191 1, but sales were 
made at over $700. The buyers in those days did not 
have a good time, for though they begged for more and 
better quality rubber, they did not get it, as London was 
considered quite invincible, and influenced the branches 
here to retard the trade as much as possible. But the 
Chinese by degrees obtained larger quantities, and a plan 
was instituted by which European and Chinese buyers 
went round to the Chinese chops that had rubber to 
sell and bought it, on the system of the numbers of the 
lots being put on a piece of paper and each buyer filhng 
in the price he would give. The slips were handed in, 
and the highest bidder was supposed to get it. The 
system was very slow and cumbersome, and many 
firms sent their Chinese storekeepers to buy for them. 
Arrangements for the storekeepers to get return com- 
missions on the lots they bought did not help, but 
for a time it was the only way we could get much 

The greater part of the Chinese rubber came here in the 
form of unsmoked sheet, very bad to look at and of a 
coarse smell, and to overcome this the system was 


started of rewashing these sheets and making them 
into what was called " blanket crepe," a very remunera- 
tive business. I have been told that at least 200 
machines were at work in Singapore turning sheets 
into blanket ; but though small quantities of this quality 
are still sold, it is not generally in demand, partly 
due to the chance it gives of mixing in certain quantities 
of inferior rubber, which does not show much at the time, 
but later causes the blanket to go soft. It was a system 
to overcome the want of knowledge in preparing the 
rubber, and was really wasteful, because it would be 
cheaper to prepare the rubber properly at first. With 
time, as the small growers find this out, it should entirely 
die out, but it helped over the early period, and showed 
the Americans that we had something to sell. At times 
Mincing Lane lights drifted through to look at planta- 
tions they were interested in and such like, and they 
always clearly pointed out that we should never be able 
to make a market here. We did not say much, but kept 
on at it, and even before the War came we had made 
ourselves distinctly felt. The early part of the War 
did not help us at first, on account of finance, and then 
an embargo compelled us to send all rubber through 
England. Had this lasted it might have been serious 
for us in the trade ; but the embargo was lifted, and 
the London auctions had been stopped. Though some 
do not agree with me, I believe this was a distinct help 
to us, as our auctions made a definite market, so that 
buying and selling of large quantities became easy. 
The chance came, and we started to ship via the Pacific, 
and gave the American railways an eye-opener which 
has taken them years to get level with ; and had it not 
been for the restrictions, it is doubtful when they could 
have done it. Anyhow, it has taught them to use their 
lines. Probably over 50,000 tons, of a value of sixty to 
eighty million dollars, was shipped from here in 1 9 1 7. The 
position of Singapore as a shipping port was always in 
its favour, and taking it altogether, the business has 
been done cleanly, which must tell in time. 

The Rubber Association 


The Rubber Association was started in Singapore 
with the main idea of having local auctions, and the 
first was held on the 12th September 1911, when 
there were put up for sale one lot of Coghlan and Co. 
and ten lots of Guthrie and Co., the total offered being 
66.75 pikuls. The firm buying the first lot was Gino, 
Fertile and Co., and the total amount sold was 24.32 
pikuls. Soon Barlow and Co., Powell and Co., and Behn, 
Meyer and Co. came in as sellers, while the buyers in 
those early days were Fertile and Co., Moraux and Co., 
Curry, Forweg and Co., East Asiatic Co., Dunlop Rubber 
Co., Otto Isenstein and Co., H. Frice and Co., Low Feng 
Soy, Wah Hong Seng Kee, and the East Indies Trading 
Co. Boustead and Co. came in as sellers at the tenth 
auction, and after fifty-five auctions the buyers and 
sellers were practically the same, except that Faterson, 
Simons and Co. and Goodall and Co. had come in as sellers. 

Frices in the early days were about $276 per pikul for 
pale crepe, $266 smoked sheets, and $186 bark crepei 
From the 12th September 191 1 to the end of the year 
84 tons were put up and mostly sold ; and in subsequent 
years the amount of rubber put up and sold at the 
Singapore auctions was as follows : — • 

1912 . 

1913 . 

1914 . 

1915 . 

1917 . 

I9i» . 

Though in later years a good deal was withdrawn, 
the greater part of it was sold between auctions, and 
sold more or less as the result of the rubber having 
been put up to auction ; so that practically the whole 
of the 63,381 tons offered to the end of 191 7 has been 
sold as the result of these auctions, and it is plain that 
the rubber trade of Singapore would not have progressed 
so rapidly if they had not been estabhshed. Many have 
spoken against them, but they established a basis of 



599 tons 

522 tons 

1,695 ., 

1,508 „ 

3.685 .. 

2,666 „ 

11,167 .. 

7.322 „ 

24.699 ,. 

16,659 „ 

41.452 „ 

24,316 „ 

51,161 „ 

31.663 „ 


price on which both buyer and seller could work ; their 
value to the stability of the trade is to be found in the 
fact that Singapore is the only place that has carried 
on its auctions continuously. The price at an auction 
is public property, and assists as a basis for outside 
sales, by which otherwise a small buyer would be 
badly squeezed. 

The machinery of the Rubber Association will be 
improved as time goes on. Some qualities of rubber 
have already been standardised, and forward contracts 
made on a known basis. Arbitrations have worked 
out very fairly, and a sound basis established for 
future development. One thing is badly needed — a 
proper building, and the savings by the Committee 
have been made with this object in view. The 
Association was formed by men of the " City Father" 
type, who appointed themselves, whose interests were 
mainly in London ; but this soon righted itself, and men 
inside the business practically acquainted with its 
intricacies and enormous possibilities have come on to 
the Committee, men who recognise that the general good 
of the trade and the port must outweigh any private 


By H. Price 

The earliest use of rubber is prehistoric, for Cortes, 
when he went to Peru, found the natives using it for 
balls, waterproofing their coats, and making various 
utensils. The most important step forward in the use 
of rubber was Goodyear's discovery of the process of 
vulcanisation, by mixing the rubber with sulphur and 
heating it, about 1839 in America, improved by Han- 
cock in England in 1 842. The rubber trade is, therefore, 
modern, and of very rapid growth. The next great step 
was in 1876, when Wickham brought the seeds of the 
Hevea from Brazil to London, these being the parent 
stock of all the plantations out in the East, and without 


which how different would have been the rubber trade 
of to-day ! The islands of Singapore and Ceylon have 
been the two centres from which all these immense 
plantations have spread. Many mistakes were made at 
first, such as planting the rubber in the swampy places, 
to try to imitate the flooded districts of the Amazon. 
The trees first planted here were in a pretty damp place, 
but it was found that rubber must be planted in undu- 
lating or drained ground. Too dry situations, of course, 
give a poor flow of latex. As a new industry, and one 
that involves a wait of five years for its result, of course 
it had many difficulties to solve, and many experiments 
have been tried on this island, such as the proper dis- 
tance to plant apart and the best method of tapping to 
get a proper bark renewal. As many trees out here 
do not winter, and as the Hevea does, it is not so strange 
that one of the best-known estates, when the leaves 
began to fall, thought that it was some disease attacking 
the trees, and cut a lot of them out before they dis- 
covered their error. They were sorry afterwards when 
rubber was at 12s. (twelve shillings) a pound; but the 
men who were running the business were not dis- 
heartened by this and other errors, and the Hevea is such 
a hardy tree to grow, and seems so well suited to this 
climate, that successful companies have paid 200 to 
300 per cent. Other kinds of rubber have been tried 
out, such as the Ficus elasticay the native tree, but it 
does not pay well. A certain amount of Castilloa and 
Ceara has been planted, but though the rubber is good, 
it cannot compete with the Hevea^ save for specific 

The Americans spent much money planting rubber 
in Mexico, but it was quite a failure. The Dutch, with 
seed of Singapore origin, started in their Eastern 
Colonies to plant some time behind us, and have done 
well, profiting by our experience, and showing their 
skill as planters. We cannot boast of the largest rubber 
plantation in the world. That is in Sumatra, and 
belongs to an American company ; but one of the head 


men was from the Straits, where he had been working 
for the Government Agricultural Department. 

Tim Bailey, Malcolm Gumming, E. V. Carey, Larkin, 
and many others are gone (some, perhaps, to find the 
streets of heaven paved with rubber instead of gold, 
though rubber produced their gold), but the result of 
their labourstill flourishes in the handsof their successors. 
Mr. H.N. Ridley, C.M.G., was fortunately at the head 
of the Singapore Botanical Gardens during the long 
period of early planting, and the trade will never realise 
what they owe to his hard work and optimism regarding 
the future of the industry. He was indefatigable, and 
always pleasant and willing to help all who went to him. 
It was through his instrumentality that the Chinese 
came in during the early days, and many of the English 
plantations started originally with a block of rubber 
planted by the Chinese, to which they added, and though 
some of it was not too well planted, it made money to 
develop the estates further. 

The Malay Peninsula had very little suitable labour 
for planting, so it had to be imported, and the principal 
recruits have been Tamils, Chinese, and Javanese, and 
we have had thus to contend with more expensive labour 
than in Ceylon or Java. In the early days we had 
indentured labour, and there were daily quotations for 
coolies, according to quality ; but that has been stopped, 
and now there is quite a flourishing business in securing 
free coolies from India or China, or even locally. 

On the island of Singapore there is a number of rubber 
estates, but much of the soil is not the best suited for 
the cultivation. They are principally owned by Chinese, 
but there are seven European estates. The craze for 
planting was so great at one time that a large number 
of gardens have rubber trees planted in them, not 
sufficient in number to be worth tapping ; but this shows 
how the industry took hold of the place. The fairly 
well-to-do Chinaman likes to have a plantation on the 
island which he can visit on Sunday, combining business 
and pleasure. 


How much the few seeds that came here helped 
Singapore it is quite impossible to say. There is 
probably more rubber passing through Singapore now 
than through any other place in the world, and in one 
way and another most people of the place benefit. A 
thousand tons of rubber are weekly put up at the 
auctions, worth about ;^200,ooo, and this is only about 
a third of the rubber being dealt in. And yet there is 
no Rubber Exchange ! 


" Recollections of the Introduction of Planting in the 
S.S. and F.M.S./' by Walter Fox, formerly Super- 
intendent Forests and Gardens, Penang. 

I well remember the day, in the early spring of 1879, 
when Sir Joseph Hooker, the then Director of Kew 
Gardens, brought round to my department in Kew 
Gardens Sir William Robinson, Governor of the Straits 
Settlements, who was at home on leave, to see me. 
Sir Joseph having recommended me for the position 
of Assistant Superintendent of the Botanic Garden, 
Singapore, then vacant. The result of the interview 
was that I left England for Singapore in July of 1879 
in the s.s. Glencoe, and arrived in Singapore in August, 
the voyage taking exactly thirty-one days. (Inci- 
dentally, I made the same passage thirty-nine years 
later, and the time occupied in getting to Penang was 
two months and one day ; but, there, the former voyage 
was unhampered by submarines and other deadly 

In those somewhat far-off days planting, as we know 
it now, did not exist — indeed, it was hardly born. I 
believe Sir Graham Elphinstone had planted a small 
quantity of coffee around the Hermitage in Perak. At 
the Singapore end the first attempt at coffee-planting 
was at Gunong Pulai, in which the late Mr. Burkinshaw 
was interested, and Mr. E. J. Watson was also connected 
with it. It was not a success, however, the elevation 


•not being enough for Arabian coffee, I well remember 
visiting Gunong Pulai, I think it was in 1880, and I 
shall never forget seeing the long string of coolies wait- 
ing for treatment by the apothecary, seeming to be 
suffering from all sorts of diseases, but malaria was by 
far the most prevalent form of complaint. This sick- 
ness of the coolies was one of the main factors in closing 
down Gunong Pulai as an estate. About this time 
Liberian coffee was coming into prominence in replacing 
the Arabian variety. Its value lay in the possession of 
two valuable factors : its disease-resisting power and 
its adaptability for growing at sea-level. It was only a 
few years before that Ceylon coffee-planters had been 
ruined by the coffee-leaf disease {Hemilia vastatrix) ; 
consequently, a coffee which resisted the attack of this 
dreaded disease was a valuable acquisition. The 
Gardens Department in Singapore, as well as the late 
Mr. Edwin Koek, derived a considerable revenue from 
selling Liberian coffee seeds at one cent each. This 
was the species of coffee which was planted afterwards 
in the F.M.S., preceding the rubber boom, and which a 
well-known planter once referred to when he was asked 
to plant rubber : " Be hanged to your rubber, coffee is 
good enough for me." Yes, coffee was then $25 per 
pikul ; but that same planter altered his opinion by 
enquiring: " Well, what is this rubber you have been 
talking about, how does it grow," etc. ? Needless to say 
that gentleman never regretted the fall in the price of 
coffee, which was the cause of directing his attention to 

To go back, however, for a moment to 1879, in those 
days the only plantations or estates in Singapore were 
gambier and pepper, with two notable exceptions, one 
being Mr. Chasseriau's tapioca estate adjoining Bukit 
Timah and the other the Trafalgar Tapioca Estate at 
Seletar. In that year Mr. Chasseriau was in Europe, 
and the estate was in charge of Messrs Perks and de 
Boinville. The cultivation of tapioca on this estate 
I have never seen excelled anywhere, the estate being kept 

MR. W. W. BAILEY 93 

like a garden. Mr. Chasseriau was a martinet, and had 
a most ingenious method of getting the maximum amount 
of work out of his cooUes. His system was perfect in 
itssimpHcity,and consisted of working cooHes of different 
nationahties together. For instance, when changkolhng 
a fallow-field, he would place, say, a gang of twenty-five 
Chinese in the middle position, flanking them on either 
side with the same number of Klings and Javanese. 
Anyone who knows the respective values of the three 
nationalities for such work will appreciate how theKHngs 
and the Javanese must have worked to keep up with 
the stalwart Chinese. Each section had a mandore 
marching up and down behind the lines, shouting 
frequently ^^ jalan jalan." For this real hard work the 
prevailing rate of pay of the Klings and Javanese was 
$4 per mensem. It is said, too, that a check was kept 
on the mandores, to see whether they had been sitting 
down, by an examination of the seats of their trousers. 
Some years afterwards, when tapioca declined in value, 
it was discarded for coffee ; but for one reason or another 
this was not a success, and the once flourishing estate 
languished until the rubber boom set things in motion 
again, and a certain portion of the estate was put under 
rubber, and another portion later was purchased by 
the Municipality, as it lay within the watershed of the 
town supply. 

Among the earliest attempts at planting must be 
mentioned an attempt to open up at Gunong Pantei, and 
also the late Mr. Abrams's speculation in cacao up the 
Johore River, at an estate he named " Theobroma," 
literally, ^'the food of the gods." Both ventures, how- 
ever, were not very successful, the latter being eventually 
turned into a rubber estate. About this time the late Mr. 
W. W. Bailey appeared on the scene, Messrs. S. R. Carr, 
of J. Little and Co., and F. G. Davidson, of the P. and O. 
Co., being associated with him as partners. They opened 
up an estate on the east side of Singapore, at Pengerang, 
with cacao, and on the lower portion of the estate with 
sago, in what was practically a swamp. The writer very 


well remembers taking a trip up the Johore River to 
Theobroma and Gunong Pantei, with Messrs. Abrams, 
Bailey, and Liddelow, the last at the time being Manager 
of Sayle and Co., at the corner of Raffles Square, opposite 
Katz Bros. On our return journey we stopped at 
Pengerang to drop Bailey, arriving there at about 3 a.m. 
We all saw him to his bungalow, and as a short cut he 
took us through the sago palms. The other three are 
dead now, but I shall never forget that short cut ; it 
had been raining, and we had to walk and balance our- 
selves on small tree- trunks made slippery with mud. 
The consequence was that we were constantly slipping 
off into the mud up to our knees, the only light to guide 
us being a flickering torch. I think the only man who 
saw the joke was " Tim " himself ; but we soon recovered 
under his genial influence, aided by a good peg. 

I regret to say that notwithstanding that I planted the 
first plant of cacao on Pengerang, the venture was un- 
successful. It was most curious to note the cause of 
failure, and equally difficult to account for it. In taking 
a line one would meet plants in every stage of develop- 
ment, good, very good, bad, and very bad, so much so 
that the venture was turned down and the cacao pulled 
up. Nutmegs were fixed on to follow the cacao, and if 
good growth and uniformity had been the only requisites 
for a money-making proposition, then Pengerang would 
have been a model estate. But, alas, they were not ! It 
must here be explained that nutmeg trees may be either 
male or female, that is to say, one tree produces only 
male flowers and another tree only female flowers ; nor 
are there any means of knowing which are males and 
which are females before they flower. In this case, 
however, there were more male than female trees, and as 
the former are no good for producing the nutmeg, the 
venture was failure number two. This was enough for 
W. W. He shook the dust of Pengerang off his feet and 
migrated to Klang, where he opened with coffee the 
famous Highlands and Lowlands Estate. Although he 
was one of the pioneers in the F.M.S., he was by no means 


the earliest. Among his predecessors were the Hon. 
Martin Lister and Mr. W. R. Rowland. They, of course, 
planted coffee, choosing Sungei Ujong for their estate. 
They, too, were the first to plant Hevea, not, however, in 
estate form, but in the position of marking boundaries 
and such-like places. I believe they made a considerable 
amount of money in selling seeds at a cent apiece. One 
of the earliest, if not the very earliest, of planters in the 
F.M.S. was the late Walter Stephenson, in conjunction 
with his brother, who was a chemist at Maynard's in 
Dr. Bentley's time. Subsequently they were joined b}^ 
a younger brother, Percy. They opened near Klang, 
calling their estate ** Beverley," after their native place 
in Yorkshire. Opening first with pepper, afterwards it 
became a coffee estate, and finally rubber. 

We are now coming to the time when, in addition to 
the genial " Tim," were the Parrys, the Kindersleys, 
and the Darbys, not forgetting the brothers Stevens at 
Jebong, in Perak, where, I believe, the first commercial 
rubber biscuits were made, the rolling machinery con- 
sisting of a champagne bottle. I must not forget to 
relate an incident which brings Johore, if not to the 
earliest place where rubber was planted, at any rate 
to a good second. In the early 'Nineties the writer was 
Acting Director in Singapore, when a despatch was 
received from Mr. J. Chamberlain, the then Secretary 
for the Colonies, on the subject of the adulteration of 
gambler. I was requested to write a report on the 
subject. To do so, I had to visit all the countries round 
about to get information. At that time Mr. Larkin was 
planting gambler in Johore, and trying his best to im- 
prove the article by various methods, including the use 
of copper pans for boiling the gambler in place of the 
iron pans used by the Chinese. I stayed with him for 
some days, and he was very helpful to me in giving me 
all the information he could for my report. 

In the early days of rubber planting, when general 
attention was being given to it by all the planters in the 
Far East, it was found necessary to adopt a system of 


regulating the supply of rubber seeds to the various 
purchasers. It was laid down that the needs of the 
Colony came first, next the F.M.S., and then anyone else 
in the priority of their application. The consequence 
was that we had not sufficient to supply all the demands 
of the two first-named places. It was at this time Mr. 
Larkin came to the Gardens Office to see if he could be 
supplied. He was shown the order book, and saw how 
hopeless it was to expect any supply in the ordinary way 
except at some very distant future. I felt very sorry for 
him, and, remembering his kindness to me when I was 
studying the gambier question, I began to try to think 
how I could help him without being unjust to the others. 
I saw a way of helping him. In those days we used to 
pack down Hevea seeds in dollar-boxes we got from the 
bank — each box held about, I think, 300. In filling the 
different boxes for sending away to the Colony and F.M.S. 
there would always be a broken lot left over. These I 
used to put aside for Mr. Larkin and send them to Johore 
by the horse-bus, and in such a manner that he got nearly 
as many seeds as though he had been among the favoured 
few. Such was the origin of Mount Austin. The con- 
version of such estates as the Caledonia group and Mala- 
koff from sugar and tapioca respectively to rubber I do 
not propose to mention here, as it would take me beyond 
the limits of my task. 

Such, in brief, are a few of the recollections of the early 
days of planting, including rubber. Of the latter product 
I may say that I have practically grown up with it ; for 
in 1876 I was a student at Kew when Mr. Wickham 
brought the seeds from the Amazon. I saw them sown 
at Kew, and despatched in Wardian cases to the Far 
East, following them in 1879, when on my arrival I 
found, I think it was, nine trees only, growing in that part 
of the Gardens where the Palmetum is now. These nine 
trees I later planted in the Economic Garden. Mainly 
from the descendants of these trees has grown up that 
marvellous industry, without parallel in the history of 
tropical agriculture. 



The history of the trade in mineral oil and its products 
in bulk as concerns Singapore began in July 1891, when 
Syme and Co., acting in connection with the London firm 
M.Samuel andCo., pioneers of the bulk oil trade in theEast 
and founders later on of the Shell Transport and Trading 
Co., Ltd., wanted to erect a tank for the storage of petro- 
leum in bulk at Bukit Chermin. The Municipality then 
discovered that they had no power to give authority 
to store bulk petroleum within their limits. An applica- 
tion to the Government that then followed for a site at 
Pasir Panjang was also refused. This led to the estab- 
lishment, by Syme and Co., of the petroleum tank depot 
on the neighbouring island of Pulo Bukom, which was the 
first of its kind in the East, and was begun with a tank 
capacity of 4,500 tons, and a hand tin-making plant. 
At great expense, and in face of many difficulties, Pulo 
Bukom or, as it was often then called, " Fresh- Water 
Island," was made a safe anchorage, and facilities for 
discharge of steamers were arranged. In 1 892 the depot 
was opened by the arrival of a cargo of Russian kerosene 
by the s.s. Murex. Later on the installation was taken 
over by the newly formed Shell Transport and Nether- 
landsche Indische Industrie en Handel Maatschappij ; 
the oil territory in Dutch East Borneo which has Balik 
Papan as its centre was acquired and opened up. Oil 
products were brought thence to Pulo Bukom, and also 
from the oil-fields of the Moeara Enim Co., Palembang, 
imports of Russian kerosene being gradually displaced 
thereby. From Singapore, the central depot for the East, 
were suppHed many of the tank depots of the Company at 
other ports, while other markets were supplied with 
kerosene packed in tins and cases. In 1 895 the Govern- 
ment turned down a scheme for storing petroleum in 
bulk at Tanjong Pagar, and next year a Petroleum Depot 
Commission sent in their report. The first trial run of 
a ship with liquid fuel was the s.s. Haliotis in 1 898. 


The year 1902 saw an important amalgamation. A 
new formation, The Asiatic Petroleum Co., Ltd., 
with head office in London, took over the storage and 
marketing interests of the Shell Transport and Trading 
Co., Ltd., and of their competitors, the Royal Dutch Oil 
Co., owners of the petroleum tank installation on the 
neighbouring Dutch island of Puloe Samboe, whose 
agents in Singapore were Hooglandt and Co., while the sea 
transport interests of these companies were taken over 
by a new and allied concern, the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum 
Co., Ltd. The business, which continued to be represented 
by the respective agents, Syme and Co. and Hooglandt 
and Co . , now acting j ointly , steadily increased , embracing, 
in addition to various grades of kerosene, liquid fuel, 
benzene, lubricating oil, etc., all the products of the 
Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij, which had taken 
over the producing interests of the Shell Transport and 
Trading Co., Ltd., in Dutch Borneo, and of the Royal 
Dutch Oil Co., in Borneo and Sumatra. Full cargoes 
of benzene in bulk to Europe became an important 
feature. Until permission was got for the benzene- 
carrying ships to go through the Suez Canal, the trip 
home had to be made by the Cape. Burning liquid fuel, 
the vessels usually made non-stop runs to the United 
Kingdom, which served to demonstrate the value of 
this kind of fuel and stimulate interest therein. To 
cope with developments, the tankage and other facilities 
at Pulo Bukom (and Puloe Samboe), already very 
considerable, had to be continually added to. It might 
be mentioned that in 1906 Syme and Co., as agents of the 
Asiatic Petroleum Co., Ltd., secured a decision in their 
favour in the Court of Requests that oil-ships not going 
to Penang need not pay Muka Head Light dues. 

So important did the Singapore business become as a 
distributing centre that the Asiatic Petroleum Co., Ltd., 
took the step, in 1908, of opening their own office in 
Singapore. This was done under the management of Mr. 
F. E. Jago, at one time in Boustead and Co. The present 
Manager, the Honourable Mr. Andrew Agnew, C.B.E., 


formerly of Syme and Co.'s staff, was his chief assistant. 
Enterprise and progress have continued to mark the 
Company's business in Singapore. An outward testi- 
mony to this can be seen in the handsome offices, St. 
Helen's Court, recently erected by them in Collyer Quay. 

Particular mention must be made of the important 
local trade in motor spirit (almost exclusively of the 
popular " Shell " brand), which has expanded by leaps 
and bounds concurrently with the enormous increase 
in the number of private and hired motor vehicles of all 
descriptions employed on the island, a result also of the 
rapid substitution of animal traction by motor-power, 
which is one of the most remarkable features in the 
recent development of Singapore's street traffic. Despite 
restrictions imposed by the authorities on the importa- 
tion of automobiles into the Colony, the consumption 
of motor spirit increased during the War by no less 
than 75 per cent. The spirit is packed at the 
Asiatic Petroleum Company's installations at Pulo 
Bukom and Puloe Samboe, and imported by motor 
tongkang to their wholesale storage depot adjoining 
Kallang Bridge, whence it is distributed daily by motor- 
lorry among the various garages and dealers in town. 

The kerosene oil trade is shared with the Asiatic 
Petroleum Company by the Standard Oil Company of 
New York, who formerly imported their whole supplies 
of packed oil direct from U.S.A. Since the completion, 
however, of their bulk-oil installation at Bagan Luar 
(on the coast of Province Wellesley opposite Penang) 
iii 19 1 6, the latter Company have drawn the major part 
of their Singapore requirements from the Northern 

The consumption of lubricating oil has increased 
consistently with the growth of the shipping business 
of the port, and the development of local rubber fac- 
tories and motor traffic, calling for important supplies 
of marine engine and cylinder oils, engine and gear oil, 
and motor cylinder oils respectively. Before the War 
the major part of this business was in the hands of the 


two well-known American companies, the Standard 
Oil Co. of New York and the Vacuum Oil Co. During 
the War, however, the shortage of American supplies 
was made good by the Asiatic Petroleum Company, who 
were able to import large supplies from their Nether- 
lands-Indian refineries, and who now hold a good share 
of the local trade in this line. 

The history of Singapore as an oil-distributing centre 
would be incomplete without reference to the large oil- 
bunkering business, which has grown to considerable 
dimensions in recent years, and the rapid development 
of which is chiefly due to the far-seeing enterprise of the 
** Shell " Company's directors in providing facihties for 
the berthage of large ocean-going vessels at Pulo Bukom 
and Puloe Samboe, and for the supply of fuel-oil in 
bulk from tank lighter to steamers discharging cargo in 
the roads. There is no doubt that the existence of these 
facilities has given an important stimulus to the use of 
liquid fuel in place of coal on steamships, and to the 
building of motor-engined vessels for service on the 
Far Eastern run. In this respect, indeed, Singapore 
has been an object-lesson by which the principal steam- 
ship owners all over the world have not been slow to 
profit, as is shown by the steadily increasing numbers of 
oil-fired vessels now to be seen on all main trade routes ; 
while in addition to the virtues associated with the 
pioneer, the port can justly claim to have maintained 
the distinction of possessing the largest oil-bunkering 
depot and of supplying bigger quantities than any other 
British bunkering station in the East. 

Important quantities of fuel-oil were supplied from 
time to time during the War to British and allied war 
vessels from the Asiatic Petroleum Company's Singapore 
depots, where also big cargoes of motor-spirit for the 
Army Service Corps and Royal Air Force were packed 
for export to various war areas such as Mesopotamia, 
Egypt, East Africa, Salonica, etc. An interesting new 
departure in the transport of fuel-oil in bulk, supplies 
of which were urgently needed at home for the service 


of the Fleet in European waters, was the use of the double 
bottoms, or ballast tanks, of big cargo vessels for this 
purpose. Large quantities of oil were transported in 
this way from Singapore to the United Kingdom in the 
double bottoms of vessels belonging to the " Blue 
Funnel " Line (Messrs. A. Holt and Co.), the P. and O. 
Company, and the Shire Line. The first cargo so loaded 
at Pulo Bukom was that shipped per the Blue Funnel 
boat Keemun in October 191 5, when the quantity of 
1,089 tons was pumped into the ballast tanks in less than 
seven hours. Full use also was made of Singapore as 
an " entrepot " for the conveyance to the main war 
theatres of thousands of tons of the precious Sumatra 
and Borneo petrols, and the no less valuable paraffin 
waxes from Borneo and Java, which proved to be such 
a vital munition of war that in a speech delivered shortly 
after the conclusion of the Armistice by M. Berenger, 
the Commissioner-General of Petroleum in France, he 
was induced to describe them as being '* the very life- 
blood of victory." Singapore may well be proud of the 
part it played in the continuous flow of this " life-blood " 
to the heart of the Empire at the time of its greatest 



By T. A. Melville f of the Straits Settlements Post 

The Post Office under the East India Company 

The postal regulations in force in Prince of Wales's 
Island at, and for some years after, the foundation of 
Singapore doubtless applied to the younger Settlement , 
and are given in extenso : 

POST OFFICE department 


The Post Office will be opened at 9 in the morning 
and continue open for the receipt and delivery of letters 
till 5 in the afternoon. 

Letters for England, for any of the Indian Settle- 
ments, and for all known stations within the several 
Presidencies will be at all times received at the Post 
Office (during office hours) for despatch, and packets will 
be regularly made up for the transmission of such 
letters by the first safe conveyance that offers. 

Regular registers will be kept of all letters received at 
the Post Office and of the vessels on which they are 
conveyed, and stamped receipts will be granted for all 
letters sent to the office for despatch. 

On the receipt of packets from vessels, the Post 
Office Superintendent will proceed to despatch 
immediately the letters for the Governor, Members of 
Council, and Secretary of Government, and will then 



register alphabetically all other letters and without 
delay send the peons to distribute them. 

No letters will be received at the Post Office without 
the postage being sent with it, nor will any letter be 
delivered unless the postage is paid to the peon, or the 
peon signs a receipt for it. 

For the accommodation of the residents on the Island, 
however, a register will be permitted to be kept for their 
postage account on the understood condition that all 
postage claims are regularly settled every month. 

No person will be admitted into the interior of the 
Post Office on any account. 

The following rates of postage continue in force, to be 
levied upon all letters with the exception of those on the 
public service superscribed as such, and letters to or from 
the Governor, Members of Council, Recorder, and 
Commanding Officer of the Troops, which are exempted 
from postage. 

Postage to be levied on the receipt of all letters at 
Fort Cornwallis. 

On letters weighing less than 



I Sicca rupee . 



2 Sicca rupees . 






8 „ . . 




. I 



. I 


On all above 

As an encouragement to Commanders of vessels having 
private letters to send them to the Post Office, they shall 
be entitled to receive three pice upon every letter de- 
livered at the Post Office. 

Prince of Wales's Island, 1st January 181 8. 

Referring to the year 1820, Buckley remarks that 
an alphabetical register was kept of all letters that 
passed through the office, and a stamped receipt was 
given for each letter posted, and that this practice was 
carried on for many years. The Post Office revenue 
before the Transfer was received on account of the 
General Government of India, which also bore the 
II— 8 


disbursements. Buckley also gives us what is doubtless 
the origin of the " Postal Express," or " Mail Notice,'* 
as it is so frequently called (referring to the year 1838) : 

" The s.s. Diana left for Malacca and Penang, and it 
was a curious sign of the times that complaints were 
made by some merchants that they had not heard of her 
departure, and had missed the opportunity to write. 
So it was suggested that it would be a good plan to 
circulate a notice among the merchants when a steamer 
was intended to leave." 

It was not until November 1879, however, that the 
printed Postal Express was published. 

In September of the same year (1838) the Chamber of 
Commerce succeeded, after some delay, in getting Govern- 
ment to allow letters for England to be received at the 
Post Office for transmission by the overland mails via 
India. The postage through India was paid here and 
the steam postage was collected in England. In 1854 
the Singapore Post Office was near the Town Hall, on 
the river-side. It was said that it ought to be put on the 
Commercial Square side of the river. The Grand Jury 
alluded to a number of grievances, one of which was the 
inconvenient position of the Post Office. Communi- 
cation between the business quarter and the Post Office 
necessitated crossing the river in boats until some time 
after 1856, when a footbridge was erected, toll J cent. 
In 1856 the Grand Jury suggested that the Post Office 
should be moved across the river to Fort Fullerton, 
which was done many years afterwards, to its present 
(191 9) site, and that a Court House should be built where 
the Post Office then was. The 1859-60 Administration 
Report stated that in order to remedy the public 
inconvenience of having to employ special messengers 
for the transmission of their letters to and from the 
Post Office, " a receiving station is in course of erection 
in Commercial Square, from which, on mail days, the box 
will be removed to the Post Office every two or three 
hours." The Annual Government Report for 1864 said 


that the old Court House (in 1902 a store-room behind 
the Printing Office) had been fitted up and converted 
into the Post Office. The Post Office was still in that 
position in 1866. 

In 1855 a separate Postmaster was appointed at 
Singapore ; the Postmaster's salary was £396, and was 
compared with the Hongkong Postmaster-General's 
;^8oo. In the financial year 1859-60 the sale of postage 
stamps brought in £4,SSS, and the amount of postage 
received from other countries was ;^ 1,656. In 1861 the 
Postmaster's salary was still £396, but he was recom- 
mended for ;^594 per annum, with the greater title of 
"Postmaster and Vendor of Stamps." The Singapore 
Review and Monthly Magazine, conducted by E. A. 
Edgerton, contained the following remarks in 1861 : 
" The present Postmaster has had the management of 
this department and faithfully discharged the duties of 
it for over thirty years, though till within the last year or 
two the Harbour Master has been its nominal head. 
The duties have very much increased, as also the revenue ; 
it is therefore recommended that his salary be raised 
to £S9A, as in the proposed scale, and a more efficient 
staff provided. He should also be Vendor of Stamps, 
hitherto part of the duty of the Resident Councillor, 
to the great inconvenience of the public." 

The Post Office was under the Director-General of the 
Post Office of India, and some, at least, of the regula- 
tions published in the Straits bore his name. 

At the time of the Transfer, 1867 
The position cannot be better expressed than in the 
following portion of a report dated Singapore, the 
25th January 1864, from Sir Hercules Robinson, pre- 
sented to Parhament on the 4th June 1866 : 

" The Post Office Department in the Straits Settle- 
ments is one with reference to which some new arrange- 
ments will have to be entered into before the date of 
the transfer. The present post offices in Singapore and 
Penang are mere branches of the Indian Post Office, 


the Postmasters of both Settlements communicating 
with, and accounting to, and receiving all their instruc- 
tions from the Director-General at Calcutta. The regu- 
lations in force are established under the authority of 
the Indian Post Office Act, No. 17 of 1854, and all 
postal rates charged are levied under the Act, with the 
exception of the rates for correspondence by subsidised 
steamers, which are fixed by warrants of the Lords 
Commissioners of the Treasury. The Indian postage 
rates are specified in annas and pie, and the British in 
sterling money ; but only Indian postage labels are in 
use, upon which the rates are inscribed in the denomina- 
tion of Indian currency ; and these are sold to the 
public in exchange for dollars — the real currency of the 
Straits Settlements — at a par of rupees 224.8 annas 
6t(J*^ pie, equivalent to $100, and are taken in payment 
of British postages at the rate of one anna for three- 
halfpence. I presume that, if the transfer takes place, 
the post offices of the Straits will become subordinate 
to the General Post Office in London, subject, however, 
as in Hongkong, to the immediate control of the local 
Government, and, if so, instructions for the guidance 
of the Postmasters will have to be furnished by Her 
Majesty's Postmaster-General ; and steps should be 
taken at once to obtain a supply of local postage labels, 
upon which the rates should be inscribed in dollars and 

" As soon as possible, also, after the transfer, a local 
Ordinance should be passed for the management of the 
local post offices, and for the purpose of accommodating 
the British and Indian postage rates at" present in force 
to the currency of the Colony. Pending the enact- 
ment of such an Ordinance, the existing arrangements 
would be continued by the clause which has been sug- 
gested in the Act of Parliament for separating the 
Settlements from India ; and the local Government can 
fix by regulations the rate at which the new stamps 
shall be accepted in payment of British and Indian 
postages. But until the Ordinance is passed, rupees and 
sterling money cannot be refused at the Post Office if 
tendered in payment of such postages." 

An abstract of the probable annual revenue and ex- 


penditure of the Department, if transferred to the Colonial 
Office, estimated the Singapore revenue as Rs. 32,000, 
as against an expenditure of Rs. 23,700. It was ex- 
plained that the gross postal revenue had hitherto been 
brought to account, but that in this estimate only the 
Colonial share of the postages had been included, at 
the same rates as those allowed by the Imperial Govern- 
ment to Hongkong towards the expense of local manage- 

The Post Office was situated in Court Buildings, High 
Street, and the Postmaster was William Cuppage, who 
became Acting Postmaster-General in 1869, and had 
carried on the work of the Post Office for very many 
years, although, it appears, under the control of the 
Harbour Master. 

Under the Imperial Act, " to provide for the Govern- 
ment of the Straits Settlements," dated 1866 the Straits 
Settlements ceased to be a part of India, but the existing 
laws and officers were preserved, and the laws governing 
the Post Office remained the Post Office Acts of India. 

Maritime Mails 

One of Raffles 's regulations (1823) for the Port of 
Singapore read : " Commanders of all vessels are re- 
quested to deliver, when boarded by the Master Atten- 
dant's boat, all letters, packets, and despatches for the 
Settlement, and to receive and furnish a receipt for Post 
Office packets which may be sent on board on their 

In the early days the flagstaff was eagerly watched, 
and the signal for a ship to the eastward infused new 
life into all, as letters from Europe usually arrived via 
Batavia. A voyage from England took four or five 
months, and an answer within ten months was con- 
sidered very punctual. 

The Singapore Chronicle of 1825 contained an article 
on the proposal to establish steam navigation in the 
Straits of Malacca, and in 1826 announced the arrival 


in India of the first steam vessel from Europe, the 
s.s. Enterprizey which left England on the 19th August 
1825 and arrived in Calcutta on the 9th December. 
The Malacca Observer of 1828-9 had the following inter- 
esting items : 

" Steam Navigation. — ^Another advantage may be 
gained if Mr. Waghorn succeeds in his attempt to 
bring out letters and parcels from England to Calcutta 
in seventy-five days, previously touching at Madras, 
etc. . . . thus we should have a communication from 
England in about eighty days. This, it must be acknow- 
ledged, is a desideratum, although the expense attending 
the accommodation would be necessarily high." 


'' To the subscribers to the Stearn Navigation Fund and 
the public in general. 

" I feel it my duty to express my thanks for the 
degree of interest that you have already conferred by 
assisting my plan of Steam Communication between 
England and India. 

" The resolution passed at the Town Hall on the 
30th July last, and the undermentioned rates of postage 
sanctioned by the Governor-General in Council in a 
letter to me dated the 7th August 1828, are sufficient 
to point out the degree of encouragement I have received 
in Calcutta, and I feel sanguine of success. On my 
arrival in England I proceeded to build and fit a vessel 
for this important undertaking. I therefore still solicit 
that as I am labouring to perform a public benefit, I may 
not be forgotten — and I can only say that to be the 
first individual that shall make a voyage to India and 
back to England in six months will to me be a sufficient 
reward, and I will devote my utmost endeavours to 
effect it. Wishing the Steam Committee and Sub- 
scribers who have given their aid to my views every 
happiness and my humble thanks, I hope yet to requite 
the obligation I lay under to them by opening com- 
munication with their relatives in a third less time, 
and thereby save them many painful hours of anxiety." 



If less 

If less 

If less 

than 75 

than 85 

than 100 







For each single letter not exceeding one Sicca 

weight, if exceeding one Sicca weight 

double, H exceeding two Sicca weight 

treble, and so on 


2 Rs. 

I R. 

Newspapers each ..... 




Accounts, Law Papers, etc., certified as such 

outside and not containing letters, per 

ounce ...... 



I R. 

And if more than 100 days the common ship 


In its issue of the 14th July 1829 the same pubHca- 
tion states : " We have this day been favoured 
with the sight of a few Enghsh papers and periodicals 
dated the ist February." In 1826 the East India 
Company's ship Thomas Coutts did the round trip, 
England, Bombay, Singapore, Macao, the Downs, ten 
days within the year, the quickest return trip known. 
The first steamship to arrive in Singapore was the 
s.s. Jardine, a paddle-steamer. This was in 1836, and 
was made the occasion for an amusing picnic. 

1844. — '' The time of the receipt of letters by the 
overland route at this period was still very uncertain. 
In one week in February, for example, instalments of 
three mails came in, and in the very reverse order to 
that which they ought to have been received. On a 
Tuesday a portion of a mail posted in England in 
December arrived by way of Calcutta ; on the next 
day a part of the November mail arrived by way of 
China ; and four days later the brig Sea Horsey from 
Bombay, brought the October mail, so that the mail, 
not usually, took over four months to reach here, 
which was longer than an average passage by a sailing 
vessel round the Cape. It was proposed to get the 
P. and O. service established to Singapore, and that 
' Pulo Labuan, near Borneo,' should be made a point 
of call for British men-of-war to coal on the voyage 
between Singapore and Hongkong when conveying the 
mails from here. The Sea Horse brought forty convicts 


from Bombay under an armed guard, being part of a 
famous robber gang known as the Bunder Gang." 

One firm in Java, Messrs. Maclaine, Watson and Co., 
in 1848 used to have a special vessel waiting at Singa- 
pore to convey its European mail to Java. In 1853 
different flags were first used to distinguish the closing 
of the different mails : Calcutta by a blue ensign, 
Australia a white flag, Europe a red, China a yellow 
flag. Jardine, Matheson and Co. and the Apcar steamers 
commenced running between China and Calcutta in 
1856, and were the first regular vessels to trade with 
Singapore in addition to the P. and O. In 1862 the 
Messageries Imperiales began to run, and the first of 
their steamers to arrive from Suez bringing the mails 
from London of the i8th October was the Imperatricey 
which arrived at Singapore on the 21st November. It 
was then and for some years after a monthly service, 
and was due to the opening of Cochin-China by the 
French. In 1864, on the 24th November, the French 
mail steamer Hydaspe left Singapore for Batavia. This 
was the commencement of the Messageries Imperiales 
regular service between the two ports in connection with 
the mail steamer from Europe. News arrived next 
morning that she was wrecked in the Straits of Rhio. 
The first German mail arrived in Singapore in August 
1886, after which they called at Singapore monthly, 
both directions, and the last in 19 14 I She had a post 
office on board, and the mail gun was fired on her 
arrival. It became a fortnightly service in 1899. 
Regular branch lines ran from Singapore to Siam, Java, 
PhiUppines, New Guinea, the Caroline, Marian, Marshall, 
and Palaos Islands. 

In October 1891 the Post Office first issued its " Pro 
Forma Time Table," giving the approximate dates of 
arrival of mail steamers at and departure from Singa- 
pore, and of the movements of connecting packets at 
other ports. The publication was continued quarterly 
until the War. 


In 1896 all the steamers plying between the Colony 
and surrounding countries were supplied with letter- 
boxes, and the number of letters posted in them on 
board the steamers was far in excess of the number 
which used to be handed over to the Boarding Officers. 
Many Chinchews took to carrying stamps for sale to 
passengers and people posting late letters. The system 
had a satisfactory effect in inducing the Chinchews to 
work with the Post Office instead of evading the law as 
to the illicit conveyance of letters on all possible 

In 1905 the Post Office was provided with a steam 
launch for the purpose of shipping mails on board 
steamers lying in the roads. 

In 1906 direct mails for Canada were sent via Hong- 
kong and the East Empress Line monthly. 

In 1907, consequent on the lower sea transport rates 
payable to the Colony under the Rome Postal Conven- 
tion for carrying foreign mails, the gratuities payable 
to masters of non-contract vessels were reduced. 

The War was responsible for many changes in mail 
routes : mails for Australia were no longer despatched 
via Colombo ; all mails for North America were des- 
patched via the Pacific after August 191 7. The Blue 
Funnel Line was used for the conveyance of parcels 
between the Straits and the United Kingdom, and vice 

The p. and O. Mail 

The overland mail (across Egypt) was established 
in 1837, and across France to Marseilles in 1839, and 
through Italy to Brindisi in 1870. Camel transport 
was used for the mails up to 1858, when the railway 
planned by Mr. Robert Stephenson was opened for 
traffic between Cairo and Suez. The Canal was opened 
in 1 869, but the mails continued to be carried by rail 
until 1873, when only specially prepaid correspondence 
was conveyed through the Canal. It was not until 
1888 that the railway was given up and the Canal route 


adopted for mails. The Peninsular Company was 
formed in 1837, ^^^ extended its services to the East in 
1840, when it became by Royal Charter the Peninsular 
and Oriental Company. Their first ship carrying mails to 
India left England in September 1842, via the Cape. 
Their regular mail service to Alexandria with the mails 
for the East India Company's ships carried the mails 
from Suez eastward until 1854, when the P. and O. took 
over the through service to Bombay. 

In 1 844 the Peninsular and Oriental Company made the 
first contract for the conveyance of the mails to China 
via Ceylon. The contract was for 140 hours from Ceylon 
to Penang, forty-five hours from there to Singapore, 
and 170 hours from there to Hongkong. The steamers 
were to remain forty-eight hours here. The service was 
once a month. The first mail steamer, the Lady Mary 
Wood, arrived on the 4th August 1845, having been 
eight days from Galle. She brought the mails from 
London of the 24th June, having taken forty-one days. 
The paper spoke of this matter as follows : 

'* The arrival of the first overland mail for the Straits 
and China is an event of some importance, and deserving 
of special notice at our hands. It is a further addition 
to the great lines of steam-packets by which Great 
Britain is brought into such close contact with her more 
distant Colonial possessions. The American and West 
Indian Colonies have long had regular lines of steamers 
between them and the Mother Country, and now in the 
East it only wants an extension of the chain to Australia 
to render it complete. This, we believe, will not be long 
withheld, the growing importance of the Australian 
Colonies, and the advantages resulting to Government 
itself from quick and regular communications with 
distant possessions, will speedily bring about the accom- 
plishment of this line. It seems almost certain that 
Singapore will be the station where the junction of the 
Australian line with the Indian one will take place, so 
that with the Dutch monthly steamer and perhaps the 
Manila one in addition, Singapore bids fair to become a 
steam-packet station of considerable importance." 


The number of letters carried by the succeeding 
steamer, the Braganza, from Europe was 652, and news- 
papers 673 ; total number of covers, 1,325, Thenumber 
taken by the Lady Mary Wood on her return voyage 
homewards on the ist September was : Europe, 3,989 '> 
Penang, 165 ; Ceylon, 74; Bombay, 242 ; Madras, 281 ; 
Aden, 6 ; total amount of covers, 4,757. 

There was a good deal of excitement in the Square 
because some of the prepaid letters by the first homeward 
mail were left behind, and the following appeared in 
the paper : 

'' We regret to notice that a great number of letters 
sent to the Post Office and intended for despatch to 
Europe by the steamer Lady Mary Wood, although sent 
to the Post Office a few minutes before two o'clock 
(the advertised latest hour), were not forwarded to 
destination, but returned to the senders. The letters 
in question were sent by two commercial houses, whose 
communications and correspondence were extensive, and 
throughout the day were despatching letters to the Post 
Office so soon as they were sealed, in order that the Post 
Office servants might experience as little inconvenience 
as possible. In the instance of these letters some excuse 
is raised, which is not withal very reasonable. The 
whole of the ' rejected addresses ' were epistles to foreign 
countries, and as such had to undergo various entries 
in sundry books of the Singapore Post Office to ensure 
the certainty of reaching their destination. Although in 
time, that is several minutes before the advertised hour 
of closing the mails, the letters were returned ; because, 
as alleged, there was no time to perform all the manipula- 
tions necessary in the instance of foreign letters. But 
a still worse casualty occurred, the whole of the unpaid 
letters were forgotten ! They had been placed in a very 
snug corner, but were overlooked." 

The Chamber of Commerce addressed the Governor 
very warmly upon the subject, and Mr. William Scott 
and Mr. Cuppage, who were in charge of the Post Office, 
got a good deal of warm language. The merchants made 
legal protests against the Post Office authorities, holding 


them liable for any loss that might ensue ; but they were 
only waste paper, as the India Postal Act exempted 
them from responsibility. The paper said shortly 
afterwards that the energy of the Chamber had worked 
wonders. The forgotten letters were sent on by the 
steamer Fire Queen to Calcutta some days after, to go 
from there by any opportunity. 

At the beginning of 1848 the closing of the P. and O. 
mails was first signalled from the Government Hill 
(now Fort Canning) flagstaff, the red ensign being used 
for the Europe mail and the yellow flag for China, and 
a gun was fired when the steamer arrived during the 
night. By the contract the mail steamer had to wait 
in Singapore forty-eight hours. The first time the yellow 
flag was used a report got about that plague had broken 
out on board one of the Arab pilgrim ships, which caused 
alarm in the town among the natives for a few hours, 
from a belief that that signal was made to warn people 
of it. 

In June 1850 the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Admiral 
Austin, stopped the P. and O. mail, as is related in the 
following extract from the Singapore Free Press : 

" The inhabitants of Singapore on Monday forenoon 
were surprised at the report of heavy guns, immediatel}^ 
after the departure of the Pekin, which was soon 
ascertained from those cognisant of naval forms to be a 
' recall,' or order for the detention of the Pekin y 
which vessel had made a few revolutions when the signal 
was made from the steam-sloop Fury, on board which 
ship the Naval Commander-in-Chief's flag is at present 
flying. These sounds, however, were imagined by those 
on board the Pekin to proceed from some junks saluting 
prior to their departure, and she held on her way without 
attending to them. It appears that important public 
despatches had been left behind, and it was therefore 
necessary that they should be sent after the Pekin. The 
Fury was at this time undergoing some requisite ad- 
justment of her ponderous machinery, and one boiler was 
under repair, besides other causes of detention, the 
details of which we are not cognisant of ; yet at noon she 


was ready for the chase, on which she started precisely 
three hours in arrear of the runawa}^ mail. A stern chase 
is generally denominated a long chase, but in the present 
instance such proved not to be the fact. The Pekin 
was sighted shortly after 2 o'clock, and the distance 
between each rapidly decreased. When the Pekin was 
some five miles ahead ' blank cartridge ' from the bow 
gun, we hear, was fired, but no notice being taken, it 
determined to send a shot in the same direction so as to 
fall on the starboard quarter, which had the desired 
effect, and the Pekin at last pulled up." 

Such an occurrence was not unusual in former days. 
One Admiral, about 1862, we think it was Admiral Kuper, 
shot away part of the fore-rigging of a P. and O. steamer 
in Japan for not heaving to when signalled to do so. The 
Master of the P. and O. steamer in Singapore in 1867, 
having made some demur as to waiting a short time to 
take Admiral Keppel's despatches on board, was 
actually prevented from going to sea, if he had intended 
to do so, by a manned-and-armed cutter being laid 
alongside the vessel at the New Harbour Wharf ; the 
letters, however, were on board before the advertised 
hour for saihng. Another steamer, during the Abyssinian 
War in 1 867, neglecting to heave to when passing through 
the old harbour, when H.M.S. Satellite signalled to her 
to do so, had two blank guns fired at her, and then a 
shot was sent across her bows. The shot was so well 
in front of her that it nearly hit the powder magazine, 
anchored outside the harbour. 

The Straits Times of 1850 gave the average number of 
days occupied in the transit of mails from England to 
Singapore as 43 in 1845, 44 in 1846, 45 J in 1847, 45i 
in 1848, and 44! in 1849. 

From the beginning of 1853 the monthly P. and O. mail 
was changed into a mail twice a month. The first left 
London on the 8th of each month, and came direct from 
Galle to Penang, Singapore, and China. The second 
left London on the 24th, and went from Galle to Calcutta, 
and then to Penang and onwards. The first was due 


in Singapore about the 1 5th of each month, the contract 
time being thirty-eight days ; the second about the loth 
of each month, the contract time being forty-seven days. 
The homeward mails left Singapore on the 17th and 
28th, the first via Bombay and the second via Calcutta, 
the contract time for both to Marseilles being forty-four 
days. The steamers went on to Southampton. The 
time taken by the steamer going round via Calcutta 
caused so much delay that the two mails arrived very 
near each other, and this was avoided in 1857 by the 
mails being transhipped at Galle. 

In the month of September 1854 the P. and O. mail 
from London was delivered in thirty-four days, which 
was considered very remarkable ; and the paper said : 
" When the lines of railway through France and Egypt 
are completed, we may expect to receive our mails from 
England in thirty or thirty-one days." 

In 1867 a new contract with the P. and O. Company 
provided a weekly service to Bombay, with a transit of 
twenty-six days and a subsidy of ;^400,ooo. Arrange- 
ments were made with the Company for a " Parcel Post 
Service " between the Straits and the United Kingdom, 
with effect from the ist April 1876. There was no 
parcel post in the United Kingdom at that time, and 
the addressees had to make their own arrangements for 
obtaining the parcels from the Company. In May 1879 
a " Marine Officer" was appointed to sort the outward 
mails by P. and O. steamers between Penang and 
Singapore. There were ninety private bags, which were 
ready for delivery within a few minutes of the mails 
reaching the General Post Office. 

Under a new contract in 1880 letters were delivered 
in Singapore in about twenty-eight days from the date 
of their leaving England. It was decided that the Colony 
should pay a share of the subsidy, which it did as from 
the I St February 1880, the date of commencement of the 
contract. The ten-year contract from the ist February 
1888 provided for the mails being conveyed through the 
Suez Canal instead of via Alexandria. The rate of speed 


between Brindisi and Port Said was to be 12*5 knots and 
between Suez and Singapore was increased from 10*5 to 
11*2 knots. This contract was on a reduced subsidy. 
A new eight-year contract came into operation on the 
I St February 1890. It provided for the conveyance of 
mails between Brindisi and the Straits fortnightly, at an 
average speed of over 13 knots. In his report for 1904 
Mr. Noel Trotter wrote : 

*' The question of the apportionment between the 
United Kingdom, India, Australia, Ceylon, the Straits 
Settlements, and Hongkong of the subsidy of ;£3 30,000 
a year paid to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navi- 
gation Company for the performance of part of the 
Eastern and Australian Mail Service from the ist Febru- 
ary 1898 has been under consideration for some time. 
On the basis of an award by the late Lord Morley, in an 
arbitration case between the United Kingdom and India, 
the British Post Office claimed £7,719 a year from the 
Straits Settlements. The Eastern Colonies all objected 
to the method of assessment proposed, and it was there- 
fore decided to refer the matter of what these Colonies 
should pay to arbitration. At the request of the Colonial 
Office I prepared the draft case for Ceylon, the Straits, 
and Hongkong, and, according to the case submitted, 
this Colony's contribution should be £5,345 only. The 
Arbitrator was Lord Balfour of Burleigh, who, after 
going very carefully into the whole question, wrote : 
I am afraid I am not able to suggest any principle 
which would be thoroughly logical, having regard to all 
the difficulties of the case, and I am, therefore, reduced to 
suggesting that an arbitrary figure should be taken as a 
basis for settlement.' He fixed the contribution by 
this Colony at £6,goo per annum, which is i6'5 per 
cent, more than the round sum we have paid since the 
year 1880." 

In 1905 the transit between London and Singapore 
averaged 21 J days, and between Singapore and London 
22 J days. Speed was not a strong point in the service, 
and it was pointed out that in 1893 a P. and O. packet 
had delivered the London mails in Singapore in 19! days, 


and that in about 1 880 a mail despatched from Singapore 
by the Stirling Castle had reached London via Brindisi 
in twenty days. The shortest time occupied by the 
P. and O. mail in transit London to Singapore in 1906 was 
19 days 17 hours 25 minutes; in 1907, 20 days 10 hours 
35 minutes; and 1908, 19 days 18 hours 30 minutes. 

A new seven-year contract provided an improved 
service for a less subsidy, and commenced on the ist 
February 1908. 

In July 191 7, owing to the War, the P. and O. contract 
service to the Straits ceased, but still continued betw^een 
the United Kingdom and Bombay, to and from which 
port the Straits mails continued to be conveyed. On 
arrival in Bombay the mails were railed across to Nega- 
patam and brought on by the B. I. contract steamers; 
but the service became irregular. The homeward 
service via Suez continued weekly, but delays en route 
rendered delivery in London very irregular, the period 
of transit extending sometimes to as much as fifty days. 
Sorting between Penang and Singapore ceased on account 
of the censorship. The P. and O. Company conveyed 
free of charge any literature collected by the Post Office 
for distribution among His Majesty's naval or military 

The British India Mail 

In 1883 it was decided, after consulting the Chamber 
of Commerce at Singapore and Penang, to discontinue, 
after the expiration, on the 30th April 1884, of the con- 
tract between the Indian Government and the British 
India Steam Navigation Company, the annual contri- 
bution of $6,000 made by this Colony for a fortnightly 
mail service between India and the Straits via Burma. 
The mails had come via India, as \vell as other routes, 
since the days of Raffles. In 1887 ^ scheme was under 
consideration with a view of having mails from Europe 
for Penang sent by P. and O. packet to Bombay, and for- 
warded thence via Negapatam in the alternate week, 
when there was no opportunity by the direct route. 


The scheme depended on a satisfactory arrangement 
being made for the subsidised steamers which ran 
between certain ports in the Madras Presidency and the 
Straits Settlements once a fortnight on the arrival there 
of the mails from Europe for Penang. The mails from 
London for Penang would be delivered in twenty-five 
days instead of occupying a month in transmission by 
French packet via Singapore, and the Colony would have 
a weekly British mail service with England. 

In 1889 the new route, which had been opened to the 
Penang public through the energy of Mr. Huttenbach, 
had proved a marked success ; the average period of 
transit of the mails to England was under twenty-seven 
days, and a mail by this service was regularly advertised 
and made up in Singapore also. 

In his report for 1 894 Mr. Noel Trotter wrote : 

" A matter of much importance to Penang is the 
inclusion in the estimates for 1 895 of a sum of $1 5,000 as 
a subsidy towards the promotion of a fortnightly mail 
service between Penang and India, so as to provide, 
conjointly with the existing service by P. and O. packets, 
regular weekly communication between Europe and the 
northern capital of this Colony. The scheme con- 
templates placing the present gratuitous homeward 
service from Penang, via Negapatam, on a more 
satisfactory footing, and the conveyance of the mails 
from Europe under contract via Bombay, Calcutta, and 
Rangoon, instead of by French packet via Singapore. 
The British India Steam Navigation Company is pre- 
pared to accept the subsidy mentioned for the service 
for a year, and the arrangement only awaits the 
approval of the Secretary of State to be brought into 
operation. The scheme is tentative, and in the nature 
of a compromise ; but I hope it is the thin end of the 
wedge which will ultimately result in the permanent 
adoption of a mail service for Penang by one or the 
other of the direct routes, via Calcutta or Nega- 
patam. I believe that if a service possessing the 
principal elements of success were established, Perak 
would be willing to contribute liberally towards its cost, 
and it would also be an advantage to Sumatra and 
II— 9 


Selangor to make use of it. Further, the fact should 
not be lost sight of that if arrangements were made 
for the conveyance of Singapore mails more expe- 
ditiously via India than by French packet, a sum of 
about $10,000 per annum now paid by this Department 
to France would be available. There would be other 
sums which could be apphed to the subsidy, provided 
success were assured. The best proof, however, that 
success is practicable is to be found in the fact that the 
two fastest passages of the mails homeward were per- 
formed by the Negapatam route, the transit occupying 
in each case twenty-one and a half days from Penang to 
London. The following are the relative dates in the two 
cases in question. The tendency of the time is to increase 
the speed of the contract steamers running between 
Europe and Bombay much more than between Europe 
and China, and on the occasion of some of the recent 
fast voyages from Brindisi to Bombay, had there been 
a ten-knot steamer at Calcutta or Negapatam to bring 
on the mails for the Straits, they could have been 
delivered in Penang in twenty-one days and in Singapore 
in twenty-three days . " 

It was not until 1901 that the homeward B.I. service 
from Penang was subsidised, and in 1902 the contract 
was extended to Singapore. In 1904 arrangements 
were made for the service to be extended to Singapore in 
both directions, thus completing the whole scheme. 
The mail was to be sorted on board between Penang and 
Singapore. The subsidy paid for conveying the mails 
between India and Penang and Singapore in both direc- 
tions was $75,000 a year, and the full service commenced 
in February 1905. 

A new five-year contract operated from the 12th 
February 1908. From the 22nd February the route 
for the homeward mails conveyed by this Company was 
via Madras, instead of as formerly via Rangoon. This 
contract also provided for a weekly immigration service 
from Madras and Negapatam. Of the subsidy of 
Rs. 375,000 ($214,286) per annum for this joint service, 
the cost of the mail service, defrayed by the Post Office, 


was $90,000, towards which the Federated Malay States 
contributed $12,714. This contract was extended for 
a further two years, from the nth February 191 8, at a 
subsidy increased by Rs. 50,000 per annum. 

Railway Mail Services 

Singapore has become the terminus of an extensive 
railway system spreading through the Malay Peninsula 
and Siam to Bangkok, with numerous branches from the 
main line. The first railway to be built in Malaya was 
that from Taiping to Port Weld, opened on the ist June 
1885, an eight-mile track. Another section of twenty- 
two miles from Kuala Lumpur to Klang was opened 
in September 1886, and extended to Port Swettenham in 
the same year. Seremban was linked up with Port 
Dickson in 1891. Thus the chief towns in Perak, 
Selangor, and Negri Sembilan had railway communica- 
tion with their respective ports, and mails to and from 
Singapore followed these routes. The next step was 
the connecting up of the three chief towns by a line 
forming the backbone of the whole system. In 1900 the 
main line extended from Prai (Penang) to Seremban. 
Seremban was linked up with Tampin and Malacca in 
1905, from which date a regular mail train ran to Prai. 
The Singapore- Kranji Railway was opened in 1903, 
and the mail exchanges with Johore followed this route, 
the former mail-coach service being discontinued. 
With the completion of the Johore Railway in 1909, 
nearly all the mails between Singapore and the central 
and western portions of the Peninsula were conveyed 
by rail, in most cases with enormous advantage in 
speed. The main line has already been linked up with 
the Siamese system, and a through train service between 
Singapore and Bangkok was opened on the ist July 
191 8. The mail service on this section commenced on 
the ist November 191 8. There is already another 
line branching into Kelantan, another across to Singkhla 
(Senggora) on the east coast, another to Kantong (Trang) 
on the west. 


Singapore mails are greatly accelerated by the iron 
road over the Peninsula. The mails from Europe are 
now disembarked from the mail packets at Penang and 
sent down to Singapore by express with very often more 
than twenty-four hours' gain. For some time before the 
War these European mails had been sorted in railway 
sorting offices and made ready for immediate delivery on 
arrival in Singapore. The War and the censorship put 
an end to this. 

Siamese and Kelantan mails for and from the West 
no longer pass through Singapore, but by rail via Penang. 

At the recent rate of progress it will not be long before 
Singapore has direct intercourse by rail with Indo-China, 
China, and India, and it does not require an exceptionally 
strong imagination to take one from Singapore to 
London by rail, via Constantinople or via Siberia. 

Postage Rates 

A survey of the international postage rates of the 
Colony divides itself naturally into two periods — before 
and after the adhesion to the Universal Postal Conven- 
tion in 1877. The local rates are not governed by the 
International Convention. Before 1877 the rates de- 
pended on the charges made by the various countries 
through whose territory correspondence passed, in 
whose vessels it was conveyed, in whose territory it was 
delivered, on the route followed, on the distance, and on 
whether the postage was prepaid or collected on delivery. 
In many cases postage to destination could not be pre- 
paid, in others prepayment was compulsory. Every 
letter was a matter of account between the various 
countries concerned in its transmission, a system impos- 
sible to imagine as being applied to the millions of letters 
exchanged at the present day. Under the Convention, 
on the other hand, uniformity of postage rates throughout 
the Postal Union was the governing principle, based on 
the fact that distance is an infinitesimal factor in the 
cost of transport of a letter. 

Without attempting to trace the actual rates and their 


innumerable variations during the hundred years, it may 
be interesting to recall some of the outstanding features 
of the Straits postage from the date of adhesion to the 
Postal Union in 1 877. There was animmediate reduction 
then. Between 1876 and 1879, for example, the rate to 
the United Kingdom was reduced from 28 cents to 12 
cents via Brindisi, and from 28 cents to 8 cents via 
Marseilles. In the report for 1893 we find the following 
passages : 

** The Straits rates of postage on letters for all destina- 
tions outside British Malaya of 5 cents, which is nominally 
the equivalent of 2^d., had continued with the fall of 
exchange to shrink in value until it became worth only 
one-third of a penny in excess of a penny, a penny being 
the rate of postage which must eventually become 
universal. But in consequence of the necessity for 
raising general revenue, owing to the straitened condition 
of the Colonial finances, the Government decided in 
August to make use of its rights to level up the rates of 
postage to a closer approximation of the Postal Union 
unit, and accordingly an Order-in-Council has been 
passed raising the foreign letter rate of 5 cents, and the 
domestic rate of 2 cents, to 8 cents and 3 cents re- 
spectively, from the ist March 1894. The price of 
foreign post cards will be raised from 2 cents to 3 cents 

In the spring of 1895 ^ suggestion which originated 
with the International Bureau of the Postal Union (which 
has charge of such matters) was received through 
the Secretary of State that for the sake of uniformity 
with Hongkong, North Borneo, and Labuan the Straits 
should fix 10,4, and 2 cents, instead of 8, 3, and i cents, as 
the equivalent of the Postal Union primary rates of 25, 
10, and 5 centimes. Of this the Postmaster-General 
wrote : 

" It is true that, since our present rates were fixed, 
silver had further depreciated, and the suggested equiva- 
lents were in closer approximation to the Union rates 
than our own. I reported against the proposed change, 


as the principle of periodically adjusting the rates of 
postage to a gold basis seemed to me, from the point of 
view of public convenience, to be an extremely objection- 
able one, besides which, in the face of the fact that the 
revenue of the Post Office exceeded its expenditure, there 
was no departmental reason for making any alteration. 

1 also opposed it on the grounds that, taking a broad 
view of the matter, the time when adverse conditions of 
trade obtain, as they did then, the obligations of the 
Department to the public became at once intensified 
and enlarged." 

The 1902 report had the following paragraph : 

" The claim of the cheapest postage in the world is 
heard periodically from different parts of the world, but 
undoubtedly the Straits Settlements postal tariff as a 
whole compares favourably with that of any other 
country. Post cards available in the Colony and to the 
Federated Malay States are sold at one-fifth of a penny 
each ; the latter rate of postage throughout the same area 
is slightly over a halfpenny ; the postage on letters to 
any place (with very few exceptions) in the British 
Empire is four-fifths of a penny per half-ounce up to 

2 ounces of printed matter, can be sent to any part of the 
civilised world for one-fifth of a penny and 10 ounces for 
a penny, which is absolutely the cheapest international 
postage I have ever heard of. Thus a letter and a news- 
paper can be mailed hence to almost any part of the 
Empire at a total cost of a penny. Our registration fee 
of one penny is without parallel for cheapness ; most 
other countries charge 2d. or 2|<i." 

In the 1905 report we find it stated that : 

" The question of the adoption of universal penny 
postage was discussed a great deal in 1905, especially in 
the Press in England, but its proposal in the Postal 
Congress recently held at Rome does not appear to have 
received much support. Egypt has now taken the lead 
in this matter in a practical way, and has offered to 
introduce penny postage with any country which will 
reciprocate. This Colony is ripe for the adoption of 
penny postage with the rest of the world. Imperial 


penny postage, adopted seven years ago on the ground 
of sentiment, has proved, in this Colony, a sound 
business proposition, and a justification for a general 
extension of penny postage. It is certainly anomalous 
that a letter can be sent from this Colony to Canada, 
a distance of over 10,000 miles, for a penny, whereas 
for the same letter from Singapore to Rhio (Nether- 
lands India) or from Penang to Kedah (a Siamese depen- 
dency), distances of forty-eight and twenty-four miles 
respectively, 2^d. is the postage ; it seems still more 
anomalous when it is considered that 2^(1. is about a 
quarter of a day's wages of an ordinary native working 
man in these parts. In such circumstances it can 
hardly be a matter for surprise that natives often 
evade paying postage on letters when there is an oppor- 
tunity of sending them by private hands." 

The usual Congress which met at Rome in May 1906 
was against the universal penny postage proposal, and 
though the primary rates remained the same, the unit 
of weight was increased from half an ounce to one ounce, 
with effect from the ist October 1907. At the same 
time a reduced charge was made for every ounce after 
the first. The War of 19 14 was responsible for an 
indefinite postponement of the next International 
Conference — it was to have been held in Madrid, and 
the international rates have undergone no alteration. 
From the ist January 191 8, however, the Straits 
equivalents were raised to those which had been sug- 
gested in 1895, namely 10, 4, and 2 cents for the 25, 
10, and 5 centimes international rates. This amounted 
to raising the letter rate to countries outside the British 
Empire from 8 cents to 10 cents. 

In considering postage rates it must always be borne 
in mind that the exchange value of the dollar varied 
between 1870 and 1906, when it was fixed on a gold 
basis at 2s. 4d., from 45. 6d. to is. S^d. in a steady 
downward progression. 

In 1907 a Local Postage Union was established 
between the Colony, the Federated Malay States, 


Johore, Sarawak, and Brunei, by which the rates of 
postage on letters, parcels, and other articles trans- 
mitted between these administrations were the same as 
those in force within the Colony. From the ist January 
1908 the British Borneo Government joined this Union 
in so far as they agreed to receive and deliver free of 
charge postal matter prepaid at these reduced rates, 
although they were unable to adopt reciprocal rates. 
Consequent on the transfer of the States of Kelantan, 
Trengganu, Kedah, and Perils from Siamese to British 
protection the postage rates to and from these States 
became the same as those of the Malayan Postage Union, 
from the ist August 1909. The letter rates remained 
the same until the ist January 191 8, when they were 
raised from 3 cents for 2 ounces to 4 cents for 2 ounces 
(initial rate), and 2 cents for every additional 2 ounces. 

Imperial Penny Postage 

Christmas Day 1898 was the birthday of Imperial 
Penny Postage, and its introduction is referred to by 
Mr. Noel Trotter in his report for that year : 

" The chief event of the year, postally as well as 
otherwise, in this Colony was the adoption, by order 
of the Secretary of State, of Imperial Penny Postage, 
inaugurated on Christmas Day. Four cents was fixed 
as the equivalent of a penny, but that sum is really 
slightly less than the popular unit. In a leading article 
in the London Times dealing with the brilliant stroke 
of Imperial policy in extending the boon of Penny 
Postage to every part of Her Majesty's Dominions that 
would accept it, it was stated : * Christmas Day 1898 
will henceforth be a memorable date in the annals of 
the British Empire. It marks the initiation, though 
not the completion, of what will no doubt shortly 
become a uniform system of postage for letters at the 
rate of a penny for half an ounce to all parts of the 
Empire. At present the Australasian Colonies, includ- 
ing New Zealand, stand aloof, and the adhesion of the 
Cape Colony has not yet been received. But the 
omission of these Colonies and some others, such as 


Mauritius, from the list issued by the Post Office of 
British possessions and protectorates to which the new 
system appHes can only be regarded as temporary. The 
contagious momentum of a change so far-reaching, and 
so conducive to the social solidarity of the Empire, 
must in the long run prove irresistible, even though 
financial considerations have led in some cases to hesi- 
tation and delay.' 

" There are, of course, two aspects in which to con- 
template this welcome measure of postal reform ; the 
first relates to its social and commercial results, and 
the second views it in its financial relationship ; in this 
Colony it goes without saying that its success in its 
first aspect is assured, and after two months' experience 
of the second, I am able to add that the result will 
probably surpass the most sanguine expectations. 
There will, of course, be a large increase of correspon- 
dence with the Mother Country, but owing to communi- 
cation being confined to practically only a mail once a 
week (the odd monthly mail counting at present for 
very Httle), expansion is necessarily more limited than 
in cases where there are frequent opportunities of com- 
munication ; it is, therefore, on letters going in certain 
other directions that we may expect to see the tem- 
porarily reduced revenue rapidly recoup itself ; an 
extraordinary increase in the number of letters 
exchanged with Hongkong has already been observed, 
and Chinese traders, alert to take advantage of the 
economic improvements, will now be further stimu- 
lated to abandon smuggling letters in favour of using 
the Post Office. Letters not exceeding half an ounce in 
weight from soldiers and seamen in Her Majesty's 
service continue to be carried to all parts of the Empire 
for a postage of 2 cents each." 

Mr. Trotter's prophecy of 1898 with reference to the 
financial aspects of the introduction of the Imperial 
Penny Post was more than fulfilled. In 1 898 the number 
of articles which passed through the post was 6,660,968, 
and the postal revenue $234,859, as compared with 
19,292,460 and $609,597 in 1908, only ten years later. 

Although during the War the Imperial postage in 


many parts of the Empire was raised from a penny to 
three-halfpence, the rate has remained unaltered in this 
Colony : 4 cents. 

Local Newspaper Rates 

The postage of 2 cents (limit of weight 4 ounces) on 
newspapers of local origin when transmitted between 
the Settlements and the Protected Native States and 
Johore was abolished in September 1888. The privilege 
of free postage was partially withdrawn in 1891, owing 
to abuse, and confined to newspapers posted direct by 
the publishers within seven days of publication ; but this 
concession terminated with the year 1893, when the 
rate became i cent for 2 ounces. In 1897 the rate for 
local newspapers became i cent for the first 3 ounces 
and I cent for every further 2 ounces or part thereof. 
In 1914 the maximum postage on newspapers published 
locally and posted within seven days of publication was 
fixed at 2 cents. From the ist January 191 6 the rate 
became 2 cents for any weight not exceeding 4 ounces, 
and 2 cents for anything above, with a maximum of 
4 cents. Late fees have not been charged on news- 
papers since 1905. 

Post Cards 

The Straits issued international post cards in 1879 at 
3 cents postage, an extra charge being made for the 
card. In 1883 they were sold at face value. Reply- 
cards were issued in 1882. In 1890 the price of these 
cards was reduced to 2 cents, increased to 3 cents in 
1894, and on the ist January 191 8 to 4 cents. Local 
post cards for use within the Straits Settlements and 
to the Malay States and Johore were introduced on the 
15th December 1884 at i cent and sold at face value. 
They remained at the same price until the ist January 
191 8, when the postage was raised to 2 cents. At one 
period a post card between Singapore and Penang cost 
3 cents if conveyed by P. and O. mail, but only i cent 
by other vessels. 


The Parcel Post 

A parcel post service between the Straits and the 
United Kingdom by P. and O. packet was inaugurated 
on the I St April 1875. The charge was is. 4d. a pound 
and the limit of weight so pounds. The following year 
the Postmaster-General remarked on the paucity of 
parcels — no parcels were received from the United 
Kingdom, and only thirty-six were sent from Singapore. 
In 1880 the number despatched was still less than one 
hundred. The great obstacle to the success of the 
arrangement was that there was no parcel post in the 
United Kingdom, and this difficulty was surmounted by 
the establishment of the Inland Parcel Post in the 
Mother Country on the ist August 1883. Formerly it 
had been necessary that parcels from the Straits should 
be applied for at 122 Leadenhall Street, London, the 
head office of the P. and O. Company, and this caused 
delay in delivery, and expense and inconvenience to the 
addressees. In 1885, however, the P. and O. Company 
started delivering parcels free of charge within a mile 
of its head office, and articles for places beyond that 
limit were sent on by post at a trifling cost to the 
addressees. On the ist May 1886 the rate of postage 
on these P. and O. parcels was reduced from 32 cents a 
pound to 20 cents a pound (which was the rate by the 
Departmental Service at that time) and has remained 
the same ever since ; but the service has been very little 

On the ist October 1885 a strictly departmental parcel 
post with the United Kingdom came into operation. 
The postage was 20 cents a pound, as compared with 
32 cents under the former (P. and O.) system, with free 
delivery at destination. The limit of weight was 7pounds. 
Arrangements were made in the same year for the trans- 
mission of parcels to and from various other countries 
through the intermediary of the United Kingdom. 
This arrangement has been extended from time to time, 
and now applies to all countries with which the United 


Kingdom has a parcel post agreement. In October 
1886 the rate was further reduced to 20 cents for the 
first pound, and 12 cents a pound for each succeeding 
pound. Neither the United Kingdom nor the Colony 
is a party to the International Postal Union Parcel Post 

In 1878 a parcel post service with India was under 
consideration. There had been a parcel post in India 
since 1854. From the ist September 1885 the Indian 
Exchange was utilised for the transmission of parcels 
between the Straits and numerous other countries. 
The service with Hongkong was started in 1878, and 
extended during the same year to the British Post 
Office in China and Japan. Regulations for parcel post 
with Ceylon were gazetted in 1881. Notwithstanding 
these various foreign exchanges, there was no local 
parcel post within the Colony and between the Settle- 
ments. Regulations for this service were published in 
1884, with effect from the ist February of that year. 
This accounted for a sudden big increase in the number 
of parcels handled by the Post Office. In May 1885 the 
Straits Settlements local service was extended to the 
Protected Native States, and on the ist May 1886 the 
limit of weight was raised from 7 pounds to 1 1 pounds 
(except P. and O. parcels). 

In March 1887 a service by German packet was 
started with Europe. In 1895 the parcel tariff to all 
parts of the Empire having " Imperial Penny Postage " 
was simplified by the adoption of the " triple scale " of 
charges. The Department had been unable to arrange 
a parcel service with the Phihppines before the ist 
January 19 16. Up to that time it had been impossible 
to send parcels from the Straits to the Philippine Islands. 

In 1895 more time must have been spent in classifying 
the contents of the parcels, for it was stated that 
millinery headed the list inward, and cigars outward. 
It was not until the year of war 191 7 that parcels for 
home were sent via India — they had always been sent 
by P. and O. mail fortnightly, and occasionally from the 


I St November 191 3 by German mail. The parcel post 
service was considerably restricted during the War owing 
to the innumerable import and export prohibitions. 
When tonnage became very scarce, attempts were made 
to use the parcel post for the transmission of large 
quantities— tons — of local produce made up in parcels not 
exceeding 1 1 pounds ! When the P. and O. Company's 
vessels ceased running east of Bombay in 191 7 the parcel 
mails for England were sent by the Holt Line direct or 
by B. I. Line across India. 


From the notes on the Post Office under the East 
India Company it will have been observed that in the 
early days all letters underwent a form of registration, 
that is to say, they were all entered in books, andanadvice 
accompanied them when despatched. This system did 
not, however, provide for any compensation to be paid 
by the Post Office in case of loss. Registration, as the 
term is now understood, came into operation between the 
United Kingdom and the Colonies on the ist January 
1858, the fee being 6d. In the Straits in 1872 the fee 
was 1 2 cents, which was 4 cents more than was charged 
in England at that time. This fee was reduced to 8 cents, 
and in August 1890 to 5 cents. It was raised again on 
the ist January 1904 to 10 cents — at which figure it has 
since remained, in accordance with the Postal Union 
Convention. The indemnity, payable only in case of 
total loss of the article registered, had been $10 until the 
ist January 1899, when it was raised to $20. The steady 
increase in the number of articles registered in the Colony 
has been ascribed partly to the abandonment, to a certain 
extent, by natives of the practice of posting letters wholly 
unstamped in favour of the more secure and satisfactory 
method. The idea that posting letters unpaid ensures 
delivery is still prevalent to a considerable extent, 
particularly amongst Tamils 

In 191 7, the last year for which figures are available 
at the time of writing, approximately 3 per cent. 


of the articles posted in the Straits were registered, and 
of those deUvered over 5 per cent. Official registered 
envelopes in five sizes were introduced in February 1 891 . 


The Postal Insurance system was first introduced to 
the Straits in July 1 89 1 , when it was applied to the parcel 
exchange with England. It was then very little used. 
The following year, the i st January, a system of insurance 
for all descriptions of articles sent by post within the 
limits of the Colony was introduced. The rates were 
reduced in 1 894, and the limit of insured value increased 
from $250 to S500. In 1895 the arrangement was 
applied to the parcel post with India. The reduction 
of rates in 1 894 caused a rapid increase both in the num- 
ber and value of articles insured. The Colony became a 
party to the International Insured Letter Agreement 
(Washington) in 1899. The system was extended to 
the letter post with the United Kingdom from the ist 
January, 1900, since when it has been further extended 
from time to time to a great many countries. 

In 1906 there was another reduction in insurance 
charges, and the number and value of articles insured 
nearly doubled, the total being 7,925 articles and 
$1,302,422 value (in the whole Colony). The amount 
realised from insurance fees was $781.40, so, even 
assuming that there were no claims for compensation, 
the system was not then — nor is it now — a profitable 
one to the Department, as the cost of the special pre- 
cautions which have to be taken with such articles is 
very great. In 1907 the revenue on this service was 
still less than in 1906, owing to the reduction of the 
maximum insurance rate chargeable under the new 
International Insured Letter Agreement of Rome from 
J to ^ per cent, of the sum insured. 

By 191 7 the value of insured articles handled in the 
whole Colony had reached six milhon dollars. The 
maximum amount for which an article can be insured 
with the local Post Office is £400. 


Cash on Delivery and Value Payable Post 
At the invitation of the Home Government arrange- 
ments were made to introduce, on the ist January 1909, 
a Cash on Dehvery service in respect of parcels, both 
insured and uninsured, and registered and insured letter 
packets exchanged between the Colony and the United 
Kingdom and certain British colonies and protectorates. 
At first the service was very little used. A similar 
service with the Federated Malay States started on the 
I St January 19 10, and with Johore, Kelantan, Sarawak, 
Gibraltar, Malta, and Egypt during the same year. 
Kedah and British North Borneo participated from the 
I St January 191 3. The Value Payable Post with India 
was inaugurated on the ist April 191 2, during which 
year there was nearly 100 per cent, increase in this 
branch . The Trade Charges collected by the Department 
(including the other Settlements) on c.o.d. and v.p.p. 
articles in 191 7 was over $416,000 in respect of some 
20,000 articles. There is a great future for this service. 
The Indians of the country are already well acquainted 
with the v.p.p., which they have had in India since 1877, 
and the traffic is all in the inward direction. The War 
has shown the Europeans how useful the c.o.d. service 
can be to them, though they cannot be said to have 
become accustomed to it. In this exchange again nearly 
all the c.o.d. parcels are inward to the Colony ; similarly 
with Egypt, which sends many parcels of cigarettes. 
The outward service is insignificant, except in the case 
of the Malay States. The service is very profitable to 
the Department, directly and indirectly. 

The Chinese Sub-Post Office 

" The attachment of the Chinese to their parents and 
famihes is one of the most interesting features of their 
character, and it is interesting to watch the modes in 
which it develops itself amongst those who have migrated 
to the Archipelago, and remain for many years, and often 
for life, cut oif from all direct intercourse with their 


" During the past month some of the streets in the 
business quarter of Singapore were occasionally densely- 
crowded by Chinese. These were principally coolies 
from the gambler and pepper plantations who had come 
into town for the purpose of sending their annual letters 
and remittances to their families in China by the junks 
which were leaving on their return voyage. These 
letters and moneys are either entrusted to a comrade from 
the same part of China who, fortunate enough to have 
accumulated a small competency, is about to revisit his 
native land ; or they are delivered to a passenger with 
whom the remitter may be acquainted ; or, lastly, they 
are confided to one of those men, to be found in almost 
every junk, who make it a regular business to take 
charge of such remittances. Such persons are designated 
Seu Pe'Ke, and come from all the different places of 
any importance from which emigrants are in the habit 
of repairing to the Straits. The remitter entrusts his 
money to the agent from his own part of the country, 
who for his trouble either receives a commission of lo 
per cent., if the money is to be carried in specie, or is 
allowed to invest it in goods, the profit or loss on which 
is his, as he must pay over in China the exact sum that 
has been delivered to him. These persons frequently 
for years exclusivel}^ pursue this business : not the 
least remarkable of the thousand-and-one modes by 
which the ingenuity of the Chinese in making money 
develops itself, until they have realised sufficient to 
enable them to embark in more extensive pursuits. 

" Remittances are made by all classes of the immi- 
grants. While the merchant sends his hundreds of 
dollars, the poor coolie sends his units or tens. The 
amount remitted each year varies considerably, being 
dependent on many circumstances, such as the general 
state of trade or the particular fortune of individuals. 
In some years the aggregate amount reaches as high as 
perhaps 70,000 Spanish dollars, while in other years it 
may fall as low as 30,000 or 40,000 dollars. In the season 
which has just ended the remittances were very small 
in amount, owing, in the case of merchants and traders, 
to the unprofitable state of trade for some time past, and 
in the case of agricultural coolies, to the inadequate 
price which gambler has for months commanded, and 


which has seriously affected their wages, the amount of 
which is dependent on the price of the product. 

" Many of these cooHes, being unable to write, are 
obliged to have recourse either to an acquaintance, 
if they are so fortunate to possess one having a tincture 
of letters, or to one of the public letter-writers, whose 
stalls, like those of similar professions in many cities of 
Continental Europe, are to be found in the streets, with 
their owners ready to be the instruments of communi- 
cation for those who cannot write themselves. The 
Chinese letter-writer's stall is a very simple affair, 
consisting in general of a small rude table, a little bundle 
of paper, a brush, some Chinese ink, and a stool on which 
the operator sits. These stalls are usually placed at the 
side of the street, and sometimes in the public verandahs ; 
while, in the outskirts of the town, they may be found 
established under trees, or in the shadow of walls. The 
person who wishes to send the letter stands, or squats 
himself upon his hams, beside the writer, and states what 
he wants to have written, and the letter, being finished, 
is delivered to him, while he rewards the writer with three 
to six cents, according to circumstances. On the 
occasion of the departure of two or three large junks, not 
only are the whole of the professed letter-writers in full 
operation, but many coolies take up the trade for the 
time being, and assist in supplying the large demands, 
so that sometimes in passing along the streets in the 
morning we may count as many as from forty to fifty 
stalls. These occasional letter-writers do not expend 
much on their outfit. An old packing-case or a deal 
board frequently supplies a table sufficient for their 
purpose " (Logan's Journal, vol. i, 1847). 

The collection, conveyance, and distribution of Chinese 
correspondence to and from the Straits — and also of so- 
called " Chinese Money Orders " or " Chinese Letter 
Remittances " — came to be monopolised by a few 
Chinese merchants, and in 1 873 attention was being given 
to the want felt by the Chinese labouring class of a cheap 
and safe means of forwarding letters and making small 
remittances to their friends in the interior of China. 
Considerable correspondence took place with the Im- 
II — 10 


perial Authorities, the British Minister at Pekin, the 
Consuls in China, and the Hongkong Authorities, and 
ultimately it was arranged to open a " Chinese Post 
Office" at 8 1 Market Street, Singapore, on the 15th 
December 1876, the Gazette notice being dated the 5th 
December. It was made compulsory for all letters to 
be sent through the post. The system was explained 
more clearly in the Postmaster-General's (Mr. H. Trotter) 
second notification : 

" By British Imperial appointment, the Postmaster- 
General of Singapore, Pulo Penang, and Malacca. 

, '* Notification 

" I. This notice informs all you descriptions of people 
plainly that on the 1 5th of the present month, December, 
i.e. Chinese loth moon, 30th day, small Post Offices will 
be opened at 81 Market Street, Singapore, and 52 Beach 
Street, Pulo Penang : this is for the benefit especially 
of all you coolies ; any labouring man who wishes to 
send letters to China, let him come forward and entrust 
them to these small Post Offices, and these same letters 
will be forwarded to friends or relations in any town, 
village, or hamlet of the interior. 

"2. These small Post Offices will receive the letters, 
which will be sent at once by the Postmaster-General to 
Swatow or Amoy, and from those two places they will 
be forwarded to and delivered at each village or town. 
Answers also will be collected and returned through 
Swatow and Amoy to Singapore and the different places 
in the Straits Settlements. 

"3. These transmitting arrangements will be really 
beneficial and advantageous ; when they are in good 
working order, all men must forward their letters through 
the Government Post Office. 

" The Government has also given permission for the 
Postmasters of the small offices to carry on a money 
letter business, at a fixed scale of charges ; they will 
not be allowed to receive for their benefit a cash or hair 
more than the scale which is set out for general infor- 
mation : 


For Money Order (letter) value $ I, fixed rate. . . . lo cents 

$2, „ „ per I . . lo „ 

$3. „ „ per $ . . 8 „ 

H » .. per $ . . 6 „ 

„ " $5, and above, fixed rate per $ 5 „ 

Above $ioo, a lower rate will be charged according to private arrangement. 

For Money Orders to Swatow and Taychew the old rates will be charged. 

English year 1876, December nth. 

Chinese Piah-tsu year, loth moon, 26th day. 

Notice for general information." 

This scheme would break the monopoly which the 
former Chinese letter collectors had built up, and they 
maliciously misinterpreted the notification and issued 
the following placard : 

" We know that since the English Barbarians estab- 
lished themselves in Singapore their rules have for a 
long time been very beneficial to the people, not like 
some of our Chinese, one or two of whom are * red rats,' 
degenerate fellows of a completely oppressive nature, 
reckless without any regard to the right. Their only 
rule is making money ; they boldly intrigued and worked 
on the prince of Singapore and secretly with cunning 
formed a conspiracy to farm the Post Office monopoly. 
This truly is a course that will prevent us from having 
any good fortune. This will injure and destroy the 
living of the people, and produce misery beyond 
description. Alas for our coolies, with their toil, labour, 
and miserable condition ! If, after toiling with their 
hands or bearing heavy burdens, they have saved a 
dollar or two, which they wish to send to their family 
halls to assist in providing fire and water, they cannot 
get enough to fill the mouth, how much less can they hope 
to be able to fill the caverns of this vicious and insatiable 
lust for gain ! The classics say, * Those who invented 
wooden images, surely it was because they had no 

" Now we must clearly awake to this vicious and 
delusive system, so as to clear ourselves from a guilt 
which cannot be prayed for. As for you who wish 
to establish this Post Office, may your wife and 
daughter, dressed in their finery, be placed at the door 
for men to buy and deride, and for the use of every 
lustful person. If not this, then let them die at once. 


" Now, after reading this paper, any one not feeling 
his fierce passions arise has not the principles of a man ; 
and if the man who wished to assist in the business 
does not now change his intention and try to stop it, 
he is no man. 

" All people reading this must reverently feel grieved 
and fiercely determined, and then it will be well. 

" Piah-tsu, loth moon, 28th day (13th December). 

" If any honest virtuous man will cut off the heads 
of the Post Office Farmers, he will be rewarded with 
taels 100." 

Other notices in an equally inciting tone were pla- 
carded, and notwithstanding the precautions taken, a 
serious riot took place on the morning of the opening 
of the Chinese Post Office. The new Post Office was 
wrecked, the Royal Arms pulled down and broken, the 
police were attacked. Several Chinese were killed, and 
Mr. R. W. Maxwell, the Superintendent of Pohce, 
was stoned, knocked down, and beaten. The riot was 
quelled, however, and in the course of the afternoon a 
detachment of the 80th Regiment took the Chinese 
Towkays, who had formerly carried on the letter and 
remittance business, and placed them on board the 
Pluto, three miles out in the harbour. On Monday 
morning, the i8th December, the Sub-Post Office was 
reopened in person by Mr. Trotter (Postmaster-General), 
the Colonial Secretary and other gentlemen being 

In 1877 the Chinese Sub-Post Office was removed from 
Market Street to the General Post Office, with favour- 
able results. The Sub-Postmaster came directly under 
the control and supervision of the Postmaster-General ; 
the Chinese, for whom the office was established, were 
gaining confidence, and in 1878 the postage collected 
by this branch was $4,069. The number of Chinese 
letters despatched through the sub-office in 1880 was 
estimated at 80,000, in 1881 at 77,000, in 1882 at 90,876. 
By 1886 the number had risen to 180,000, and by 1889 
to 280,000. 


Previous to 1887 only offices for the transmission 
of Teow-Chew and Hokkien letters existed, but in this 
year offices for Cantonese, Cheow-Wan, and Kheh 
letters were established. The number of such offices 
open in 1887 in Singapore was 49, of which 34 were 
Teow-Chew, 1 1 Hokkien, i Cantonese, i Cheow-Wan, 
and 2 Kheh. In June 1888 the postage on these coolie 
letters contained in clubbed packets was reduced from 
six cents to three cents a letter. From 1 890 the clubbed 
packets containing coolie letters bore postage stamps 
instead of being paid for in cash. 

In Singapore, in 1891, there were forty-nine Chinese 
letter-shops and sixteen itinerant collectors, and the 
procedure was explained : " The shops have their 
branches in China. The collector goes round the 
country districts in the Straits collecting letters and 
small sums of money from coolies. He makes the 
letters into a bundle addressed to himself at a Treaty 
Port and posts it, buys a bank- draft, and proceeds to 
China. On arrival he claims the packet of letters and 
the money, and starts on his errand of distribution. He 
obtains an acknowledgment of each payment, and 
hands it, on his return to this Colony, to the remitter. 
A collector generally makes three or four round trips 
a year, and is rewarded with a commission of about 
3 per cent, on the amount entrusted to him. The 
charges made by the shops are cheaper, and at present 
a war of rates is going on, which I fear may end disas- 
trously for some of the remitters, as well as for the 
shops. Since the private Chinese post offices in the 
Straits were brought under departmental control, 
several have closed, many new ones have been established, 
and two have failed, one in 1890 and one in 1891." 

In 1904 a letter-smugghng society, formed by a number 
of Hailam servants, several of whom were in the service 
of leading European residents, was discovered and nipped 
in the bud, not, however, before some of these law- 
breakers had endeavoured to get their masters to 


champion their cause. Two letter-shops failed in 1907 
owing to gambling in exchange, and remitters lost 
considerable sums of money which they had entrusted 
to the shops for delivery to their relatives in China. 
In this year, also, Mr. Ho Yang Peng, who had been 
Sub-Postmaster in charge of the Chinese Sub-Post Office 
since 1886, retired. In 1914 the number of coolie 
letters in clubbed packets exceeded a million, and was 
still over a million in 191 7, though the exchange on 
China being so high recently the remittances from the 
Straits have been much restricted. 

A Chinese translation of the Singapore Postal Express 
has been issued since May 1895. 

Money Orders 

We are so accustomed to the money order system now- 
a-days that it occurs to few people that it was first 
devised as a means of checking the theft of letters 
containing money sent -by post. It was an old institu- 
tion taken over by the British Post Office in 1838. 
The first money order service in the Straits was with 
the United Kingdom, and started in 1871. A local 
money order service was introduced in May 1871 ; 
the service with Hongkong, China, and Japan in 
September 1878. The exchange which at once resulted 
in more business than all the others put together was 
that with India, commencing on the ist January 1882. 
In November of the same year a service with the Native 
States was started ; with Ceylon on the i st January 1883; 
and with the Austrahan Colonies, Labuan, and North 
Borneo in 1885. From the 15th January 1885 arrange- 
ments were made for the use of the United Kingdom as 
intermediary for the transmission of money orders to a 
great many countries with which the United Kingdom 
had exchanges. France was the only important country 
on which orders could not be issued in the Straits. In 
this year, also, the Singapore office became intermediary 
for the exchange of Indian orders with various Native 
States. The introduction of British postal orders in 


1885 relieved the money order business of many of the 
smaller remittances, and thus of a considerable amount 
of that part of the business which was unprofitable. 

Siam and Sarawak entered into agreements for the 
exchange of money orders with the Straits in 1888 ; 
Pahang and Bandar Maharani (in Muar, Johore) in 
1889 ; Jelebu on the ist November 1891. 

The report for 1893 stated : 

" The silver crisis, which was precipitated by the 
amendment of the currency laws and the closing of the 
mints in India in June, had a paralysing effect on the 
business of the money order branch during the second 
half of the year under review, whilst in the settlement 
of the accounts for the first two quarters it resulted in 
a loss, in consequence of the fall of exchange, of $36,185, 
of which sum $17,750 is recoverable from the Native 
States. The service with India and Ceylon was sus- 
pended from the 13th July to the 31st August, and the 
arrangement with India has since been amended with 
a view to guard against the occurrence of a loss in 

In 1908 the Straits Post Office ceased to be the inter- 
mediary for the Federated Malay States money order 
business with India, Ceylon, and China, separate agree- 
ments having been made between those countries. 

After fixing of the exchange on a gold basis early 
in 1906, money order business was much simplified. 
From ist March 1906 money orders and postal orders 
expressed in sterling were issued and cashed at the 
fixed rate of 2s. 4J. to the dollar, and orders expressed 
in rupees at Rs.175 = $100. By an arrangement with 
the Hongkong Post Office, a *' Bearer Money Order " 
system was introduced on the ist December 1907, 
to obviate the alleged difficulties experienced by Chinese, 
owing to the diminished bullion value of the new Straits 
dollar, in taking their savings back without loss to 
China. These orders were, to meet the convenience 
of ilhterate coolies, made payable to bearer, without 


any payee's signature and without any question being 
raised as to identification. The demand for these 
orders has been small, proving either that the Chinese 
prefer the ways they are used to or that the complaints 
as to difficulties experienced were greatly exaggerated. 
The latter is the more probable, as Straits notes are 
easily negotiable in Hongkong and the Treaty Ports. 

A money order exchange with Kelantan commenced 
on the ist October 1907. This exchange showed a great 
increase in 1908, owing to the demonetisation of the 
old dollar on 31st December 1908, involving heavy 
remittances from Kelantan. This service was very 
extensively used, as there was no bank in the State. 
The opening of a bank agency in 191 2, however, was 
responsible for a sudden big drop in the money order 
business, which nevertheless continues to be consider- 
able. The same happened to the Malacca money order 
business when a bank opened there in 1883. 

A telegraph money order service was introduced in 
1 910 for inland money orders and for those exchanged 
with the Federated Malay States. This service has 
grown very rapidly. A similar telegraphic system 
with the United Kingdom operated from the ist 
September 191 6, and has proved quite useful. 

Exchanges were established with Kedah in 19 10; 
with the Netherlands East Indies on the 15th April 191 1. 
The exchange with the Netherlands East Indies had 
been thought of since the 'Eighties, but no agreement 
had been come to, chiefly on account of Netherlands 
East India having the International Union system, 
while the Straits already had several other different 
systems with various countries. The service is on the 
Union system, and is very simple, and has proved its 
value by the extensive use made of it. 

The commission on money orders was paid in cash 
at first, and in stamps from 1888, the original cash 
method being reverted to from the ist April 1895. The 
rate of commission was from 2 per cent, to i per cent, 
from the ist August 1883, and the reduction causing a 


much more extensive use of the system, the year 1884 
showing a big increase. The commission on inland 
money orders and on those exchanged with the Federated 
Malay States, Kedah, Johore, and Brunei was reduced 
from I per cent, to | per cent, in 19 10, and the next 
year, 191 1, saw a reduction from ij per cent, to i per 
cent, in commission on orders drawn on the United 
Kingdom, India, Ceylon, Australia, Hongkong, and New 
Zealand — on Coronation Day. 

The business in 191 7 was phenomenal, and the Post- 
master-General's report for that year has the following 
reference : 

** The total money order and postal order transactions 
amounted to $14,760,563.18, as against $4,812,003.35 
in 1 9 16, an increase of $9,948,559.83. This very heavy 
increase is entirely due to the fall in the bank rate with 
India. The rate at which the Post Office issued orders 
on India was at a fixed rate of Rs.175 = $100. As 
the bank rate was more favourable than this, and was 
steadily decreasing, there was a large run on the Money 
Order Office, and the Post Office was soon taking up most 
of the exchange business with India. The takings in 
Singapore at one time reached over two million dollars 
per month, and a considerable extra temporary staff 
was taken on. Representations were made to Govern- 
ment, as it was evident the system was being abused 
and made use of for speculative purposes. On the i6th 
August 191 7 the rate of issue on India was fixed at 
Rs.165 = $100, and other steps were taken to eliminate 
the speculator, and although this was a better rate than 
the banks nominally offered, still the business was 
kept to a fairly low level. As regards Ceylon, also a 
rupee country, on the 3rd September 1917a Gazette Extra- 
ordinary was issued limiting the amount that could be 
sent by any one remitter to any one payee to Rs.150, 
and on the ist October 191 7 further restrictions were 
imposed by fixing the rate of issue at Rs.i6o = $100. 
As a result of the fall in the rate of exchange, there 
was a large demand for British postal orders, which 
were as good as Rs.175 to the $100 so long as they 
could be exchanged in India and Ceylon at Rs.15 


to the £. Steps were taken to curtail the abuse of 

British Postal Orders 

Postal orders were first issued in the United Kingdom 
on the ist January 1881. The introduction of British 
postal orders to the Straits in August 1885 is thus 
referred to in the Postmaster-General's report : 

" The appreciation with which the introduction of 
postal notes was received in the United Kingdom 
induced this Department to apply to Her Majesty's 
Postmaster-General for authority to extend the advan- 
tages of the Imperial postal note system to the Straits 
Settlements. The issue of what ma}^ be termed" Govern- 
ment Circular Notes " for sums of is., 15. 6d., 2s., 5s., 
105., and 205. commenced on the 15th August last, 
and from that date to the end of the year 937 notes 
for an aggregate sum of £6og los. 6d. were issued in 
the Straits Settlements. Such notes were payable in 
the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, and at the British Post 
Office at Constantinople." 

In October 1904 arrangements were brought into 
operation for cashing British postal orders in the Straits, 
and at about the same time the system was extended 
to various other parts of the Empire which had not 
previously taken advantage of it. The Federated Malay 
States began to purchase their orders direct from 
London in July 1906, instead of from Singapore. In 
1909, from the ist January, numerous additional de- 
nominations were introduced from 6d. up to 215., chiefly 
in connection with the cash on delivery service, but 
many of the unpopular denominations were abolished 
in 1916. British postal orders are on sale at all post 
offices in the Colony. The affixing to the orders of 
English postage stamps to make up broken amounts 
was permitted from the start, and in 191 7 it was made 
permissible for Straits stamps to be affixed. At the 
outbreak of war in 19 14 British postal orders were made 
British currency temporarily. 


Local Postal Orders 

Local postal orders, or postal notes as they were 
originally designated, were introduced in 1885 for 
sums in dollars, from $1 up to $5 each. They were 
obtainable and payable at any money order office in 
the Colony, and at the sub-post offices in Province 
Wellesley and at Balik Pulau, to which sub-offices it 
had not been practicable to extend the money order 
system. They could also be cashed by the post offices 
in Perak, Selangor, Sungei Ujong, and Johore. The 
Post Office Report for 1885 referred to these " notes " 
as follows : 

" While the new form affords additional facilities for 
the transmission of small sums at a reduced cost to the 
public, money orders and postal orders have each their 
own advantages. The postal note is more quickly and 
easily obtained. It is payable at any post office, and 
with less formality than a money order ; and some 
saving of work to the post office is effected. On the 
other hand, postal notes are for fixed sums, and the 
maximum amount of a single note is only one-tenth of 
that for which a money order can be obtained. A 
postal note is lost beyond remedy, whereas if a money 
order is lost the amount generally remains safe." 

Later they were issued and paid at all sub-post offices, 
but the issue of $5 and $1 currency notes by the Govern- 
ment did away with the demand for local postal orders, 
and they were so little used that they were abolished 
in 1916. 

The Government Savings Bank 

According to Buckley a Government Savings Bank 
was estabhshed in Calcutta in 1833, and it was proposed 
to open one in Singapore, but nothing came of the 
proposal. A savings bank had already been established 
in Penang by the Recorder, Sir Benjamin Malkin, who 
had been one of the active managers of the Marylebone 
Savings Bank in London, and he had drawn up rules, 


called a public meeting, and set the bank going. The 
suggestion was brought up again in 1846, but nothing 
was done. As early as 1793 there had been a savings 
bank in Penang, but it was not until 1872 that the 
matter was taken up seriously. In that year His Excel- 
lency appointed a Committee, of which the Postmaster- 
General was one, to report on the project of estab- 
lishing a savings bank in the Singapore Post Office. 
From 1874 to 1876 the project was still under discussion, 
but during the latter year an Ordinance was passed and 
arrangements were made to open the Singapore Savings 
Bank at the beginning of 1877. The Post Office Report 
for 1877 states : 

" The Post Office Savings Bank was opened in 
January 1877, with a view to encourage those in receipt 
of small incomes to practise economy by affording them 
a safe investment for small amounts at a fair rate of 
interest, and also of affording borrowers opportunities of 
obtaining loans at lower rates of interest than are pro- 
curable from other sources, and so long as the arrange- 
ments made by Government continued in force the bank 
promised to become a very useful institution, and one 
calculated to do a great deal of good in these Settle- 
ments, and I regret that circumstances arose "which 
necessitated loans being temporarily refused. The 
office has been opened two days a week since July, and 
the number of depositors on the 30th November was 
211, and the amount deposited $19,864.90, a state of 
affairs which may be viewed with satisfaction con- 
sidering the short time the bank has been in existence." 

The 1878 report showed satisfactory progress, adding : 

" The publication of the correspondence which had 
taken place between the Secretary of State and the 
Governor on the subject of the management of this 
institution created somewhat of a scare at the time, 
and threatened to cause a run on the bank ; but when 
it was found that action on the part of the Imperial 
authorities was with the view to ensure the safe invest- 
ment of the funds of the bank, and not to interfere un- 


necessarily in its management, a feeling of confidence 
gradually returned." 

Under the 1876 Ordinance arrangements had been 
made for loans to be made to depositors against satis- 
factory security, and in order to stop this and to arrange 
for safer investment of the bank's funds the Secretary 
of State instructed that the 1876 Ordinance be cancelled. 
The Ordinance of 1879 was the result, and remained the 
main Savings Bank Ordinance until 1907. In 1880 the 
direction of the Savings Bank was transferred from the 
Postmaster-General to the Treasurer, but the business 
was carried on, as before, at the Post Office, Mr. Noel 
Trotter continuing to be Secretary to the bank. The 
management of the bank reverted to the Postmaster- 
General on the ist July 1889. It is curious to observe 
that in 1889 the depositors consisted of 307 Europeans, 
203 Eurasians, 43 Chinese, 20 Malays, "j^ Klings, 20 
Sikhs, 9 other natives ; total 678. The bank's invest- 
ments in 1877-8 included mortgages ; and hereafter 
consisted entirely of fixed deposits until 1889, when 
they were all in municipal debentures. In 1891 they 
consisted of fixed deposits, municipal debentures, and 
Indian Government securities, an Ordinance having 
been passed in February 1891 to enable the funds to be 
invested in Indian Government securities. In 1898, on 
the Secretary of State's instructions, part of the Savings 
Bank funds had to be remitted to the United Kingdom 
for gold investments, with the result that they appeared 
as part of the assets in 1899. At the time of writing 
the investments also include Straits Settlements War 
Loan Bonds. The year 191 5 was the first in which the 
bank showed a debit balance, due to the depreciation of 
securities on the outbreak of war. 

The 1879 Ordinance was repealed in 1907, when the 
Ordinance now in force was enacted. The new law 
provided for the establishment of sub-savings banks ; 
the disposal of the deposits of intestates, infants, and 
lunatics ; the transfer of depositors' accounts to and 


from other British countries. Most of the sub-post 
offices in the Colony are now sub-savings banks . Arrange- 
ments for the reciprocal transfer of accounts have been 
made with the United Kingdom, the Federated Malay 
States, and India. 

In 1877 the rate of interest paid to depositors was 
5 per cent. ; it was 4 per cent, from July 1880 to April 
1883 ; then 5 per cent, till September 1889 ; 4 per cent. 
up to September 1891 ; 3I per cent, to June 1895 ; and 
3 per cent, ever since. 

Separate annual reports on the Savings Bank were 
published for the years 1882 to 1901, after which they 
were included in the Post and Telegraph Department 
annual reports. 


The annual report on the Administration of the Straits 
Settlements 1859-60 had the following reference to the 


*' Although not actually connected with the proceed- 
ings of the Straits Government, the laying down the 
electric telegraph cable from Singapore to Batavia, the 
first link between India and Australia, is a fact of too 
much importance to be permitted to pass unrecorded. 
The junction between the two places was effected on 
the 24th November last, and for some time the tele- 
graph worked most successfully ; latterly, however, 
there have been, unfortunately, frequent interruptions 
of communication, owing to the cable having been 
dragged by the anchors of vessels anchoring in the 
narrow Straits in its line of passage. The Netherlands 
Government has liberally conceded to the Governor of 
the Straits Settlements and to British Consuls the same 
privileges with regard to the despatch of telegraphic 
messages as enjoyed by its own high officers of State." 

The Dutch telegraph office here referred to was pur- 
chased from the Netherlands Government by the Straits 
in 1864. Buckley's reference to this is : 


" The beginning of submarine telegraph hnes from 
Singapore was very unfortunate. In May the Dutch 
Government determined to lay a cable to Batavia, and 
obtained leave to lay it from Singapore. The line was 
completed on the 24th November, and the merchants 
in Singapore sent a congratulatory message, to which 
the Batavia merchants repUed. The second message 
was from the Governor-General of Netherlands India to 
Governor Cavenagh, to which the latter replied. Then 
it snapped ! A ship's anchor was thought to have 
broken the cable. It was repaired, but only remained 
a short time in operation, and after having been once or 
twice more repaired, it remained obstinately mute, and 
on examination was found so much injured, and in so 
many places, that the attempt to repair it was aban- 
doned. An office, a two-storied building, had been 
erected on the left bank of the river, about where the 
back of the Government Offices is now, and was used 
afterwards as the Master- Attendant's office." 

The following early references to telegraphs in Singa- 
pore are interesting, taken from the Singapore Review 
and Monthly Magazine j 1 861-2 : 

" The telegraph between Singapore and Batavia, like 
many other submarine electric cables, has, after working 
a short time, proved a failure, and a new line must be 
laid before further communication can be established. 
The telegraph cable to be laid between Singapore and 
Rangoon has been found to be damaged by a new diffi- 
culty, overheating, and is still detained in England. 
From the great uncertainties and difficulties attending 
submarine cables it is now proposed to construct the 
line overland. The importance of telegraphic com- 
munication with Singapore, more especially since the 
late troubles in China, is daily becoming more evident, 
and the failure of the submarine cable laid between that 
island and Java, more than twelve months since, having 
shown that no dependence can be placed upon such 
means of communication, it is suggested that a more 
simple and less expensive telegraph might be carried 
overland from Singapore to Rangoon, the latter being 
already in communication with India. The chiefs of 
the intervening countries, being in friendly relations with 


the British Government, would be found ready to give 
every assistance in the construction and protection of 
the Hne, were the Governor of the Straits and the chief 
British authority at Rangoon authorised to treat with 
them on the subject. This would also be a means of 
opening up those countries to commerce generally, as 
well as conducive to the welfare and civilisation of the 
inhabitants. It is understood that the King of Siam 
has signified his wish for an extension of telegraph com- 
munication with Singapore, and connecting this with 
the French occupation of Saigon in Cochin-China, there 
would be little difficulty in continuing the line to China 
should such be considered advisable." 

At that time the Indian Act VIII of i860, regulating 
the establishment and management of the electric tele- 
graph, was in force here. 

In the 1867 Directory the following interesting notice 
appears : 

Eastern Asia Telegraph Co., Ltd. 

(To be registered under the Indian Companies Act 1866) 
Capital ;^ 1 50,000, in shares oi £10 each, with power to 


Provisional Directors 

W. Paterson, of Paterson, Simons & Co., Singapore. 

W. H. Read, of A. L. Johnston & Co., Singapore. 

Alex. Fraser, Managing Director of N.I. S.N. Co., 

J.J. Greenshi^lds, of Guthrie & Co., Singapore. 

J. J. E. Brown, of Brown & Co., Penang. 

Law Nairne, of Nairne & Co., Penang. 

Samuel Van Hulstijn, Interim Secretary. 

A. Logan. 

It is intended to form a Board of Directors in London. 
All communications may meanwhile be addressed to 
W. W. Ker, Esq., Cannon Street, London. 

In 1870 permission was granted to the British Austra- 
lian Telegraph Co., Ltd., to lay and work a cable between 
Singapore, Java, and Australia. The result was that 
Batavia was again almost immediately in communication 


with Singapore, and Singapore being shortly afterwards 
in connection with Penang and Madras, Java was at 
last enabled to participate in the advantages of inter- 
national telegraphic communication. In October 1872 
the cable between Java and Australia was opened, and 
in 1873 the British Australian Telegraph Co. was incor- 
porated with the Eastern Extension, AustraUa and China 
Telegraph Co., Ltd. 

In 1882 the telegraphic position of Malaya was thus 
described in military publications : 

" Singapore is an important station on the Hne of 
telegraphic communication between India, China, and 
Australia. From it submarine cables run as under : 

" (i) Singapore — Malacca, Penang, Madras. 

" (2) Singapore — Penang, Rangoon, thence overland 
to Calcutta. 

''(3) Singapore — Saigon (Cochin-China), Hongkong, 
Shanghai, Nagasaki, Vladivostock, thence 
overland to Europe. 

'' (4) Singapore — Batavia, Palmerston (Australia). 

''(5) Singapore— Palmerston. 

'^ There is thus telegraphic communication to Europe 
either through India or by Hongkong. There are local 
lines connecting the Government House with the offices, 
and with the headquarters of the military ; also from 
the town to the New Harbour. Penang has telegraphic 
communication with India on the one hand and with 
Malacca and Singapore on the other, and, through them, 
with Europe and Australia. There are also small local 
lines for the convenience of the port and the public. 
Malacca is in telegraphic communication with Singapore 
and Penang. There are no local lines. A few years 
ago the Siamese Government contemplated laying a 
telegraph line from Singora to Penang ; in fact, the track 
was partly cleared, and the posts cut, but the idea was 
abandoned. It is to be hoped that the Siamese Govern- 
ment will make this road good, and establish telegraphic 
communication with Penang. The line should be con* 
tinued through the Province Wellesleyforpolicepurposes, 
and in time through the Native States to Singapore. In 
case of any future disturbances in the Peninsula, the 
II — II 


value of a trunk road and telegraphic communication 
between the different stations would be inestimable." 

In 1893 the question of the amalgamation of the 
Government telegraph at Penang with the Post Office was 
under consideration, but the transfer from the Public 
Works Department was not carried out until 1901 . The 
Government, however, owned no telegraph lines in Singa- 
pore. The Singapore Government Telegraph Office was 
opened in 1909, the lines from Singapore to Kuala 
Lumpur and Penang being opened for Government 
messages on the 15th March, to Kuala Lumpur for 
public traffic on the 17th May, and to Penang on the 
17th June. There were frequent breakdowns. The 
opening of these lines diverted a good deal of traffic 
from the cable via Malacca to the through land lines. 

In 1 9 10 it was pointed out that during the ten years 
that the telegraphs had been under the Postal Department 
the number of messages had increased by 245 per cent. 
The telegraph was installed at Tanglin Sub-Post Office 
in 1 9 10, and at Tanjong Pagar and Keppel Harbour Sub- 
Post Offices in 191 3. At the end of 191 7 quadruplex 
instruments were set up and worked between Singapore 
and Kuala Lumpur. The cable station at Malacca was 
given up by the Eastern Extension, Australia and 
China Telegraph Co. on the 31st January 191 7, after 
which date all telegraphic correspondence between the 
outer world and Malacca was borne on the Government 
land lines. In 191 7, also, a post office circuit was 
opened between Singapore and Johore Bahru. 

The Straits are a party to the International Telegraph 
Convention. The local or Malayan rates are low at 
3 cents (less than a penny) a word. The traffic has 
increased, and is still increasing, by leaps and bounds. 
The law affecting telegraphs is the Telegraph Ordinance 
of 1895. 


The Government telephones in Singapore were trans- 
ferred from the Public Works Department to the care of 


the Post Office at the same time as the telegraphs in 1901 . 
The subject is not of much pubKc interest, however, 
as the only telephones affected in Singapore were con- 
nections between Government offices, police, sub-post 
offices, etc. The whole of the Government lines were 
handed over to the Oriental Telephone Company in 
1 91 6 on certain conditions connected with their licence, 
and the history of that Company will be found in another 
section of this book. The following extract from Mr. 
Noel Trotter's annual report for 1898 is, however, of 
interest at the present time : 

*' I have received frequent representations from 
gentlemen, some with knowledge of the rnatter, which 
entitles them to speak with authority on the subject, 
that it would be a wise policy for the Post Office to estab- 
lish efficient telephone exchanges in Singapore and 
Penang. The existing service in Singapore consists 
of lines owned by four different proprietors, namely, the 
Imperial Government, the Colonial Government, the 
Municipality, and the Oriental Telephone Co., the latter 
controlling most of the lines. The lines are, however, 
so mixed up that in some cases the wires of one pro- 
prietor are suspended from the poles of two others. 
This does not appear to be a satisfactory state of things. 
It is very manifest that, for obvious reasons, thetelephone 
services in the Colony should, like the land telegraphs, 
be entirely under the control and management of the 
local Government. I understand that the time is ripe 
for the establishment of a public telephone exchange in 
Penang. The following extract from an address deliv- 
ered at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, in 
November last, by the President, Mr. W. H. Preece, C.B., 
Electrician-in-Chief to the Post Office, is of special interest 
in this connection : ' The progress of the use of the 
telephone in Great Britain has been checked by financial 
complications. It fell into the hands of the" company 
promoter. It has remained the shuttlecock of the Stock 
Exchange. It is the function of the Postmaster-General 
to work for the public every system of intercommunica- 
tion of thought which affects the interests of the whole 
nation. Telephony is an Imperial business, like the post 


and the telegraph: It ought to be in the hands of the 
State. The pubhc and the Press have frequently kicked 
violently against the present regime,' " 


As long ago as 1902 the question of radio-telegraphic 
communication between Penang and Pulo Jerejak was 
under discussion — a telephone cable was laid instead, 
and in 1906 the Postmaster-General had proposed a 
scheme for wireless communication between Horsburgh 
Lighthouse and Singapore, a distance of thirty-six miles, 
for the benefit of shipping. Regulations providing for 
the control of apparatus for wireless telegraphy on board 
merchantships in the waters of the Colony were published 
in the beginning of 1914, and during that year progress 
was made with the Singapore commercial wireless 
station at Paya Lebar. The station was completed and 
opened for traffic on the 8th October 191 5. It is 
controlled by the Post Office. The War restrictions 
on the use of wireless telegraphy have been so great 
that very little business has been transacted with 

Wireless communication with Sarawak was established 
on the 22nd May 1917 y and as Sarawak had no other 
means of telegraphic communication with the outer 
world before this, a fair amount of business has been 
done with the Singapore station, which acts as inter- 
mediary between Sarawak and the rest of the world in 
the matter of telegraphic communication. 

The Paya Lebar station was not the first wireless to be 
opened in Singapore, for on the outbreak of war in 19 14 
the Eastern Extension Co. hurriedly erected apparatus 
on their premises, and this served a very useful purpose 
until the naval station at Seletar was erected. This 
station belongs to the Imperial Government, and does not 
transact commercial business, though it will probably 
do so in the not distant future. Another and larger 
station is contemplated near Singapore as one of the 
links on the Imperial chain of wireless stations. 


The Colony is bound by the International Radio- 
telegraph Convention. 

Netherlands India Postal Agency 
Donald Maclaine Campbell's book on Java (191 5) 
states that " In 1849 the Dutch authorities concluded 
an arrangement for the conveyance of all correspondence 
via Southampton and via Marseilles ; this was received 
at Singapore by the Netherlands India Postal Adminis- 
tration, and forwarded by means of a monthly steamboat 
mail service that had been established between Batavia 
and Singapore," and " In 1870 the service via Singapore, 
and in 1871 the service via Trieste also, which had been 
opened in 1849, were discontinued." In 1878 Dutch 
East Indian post office officials were appointed as postal 
agents at Singapore and Penang. Their duties were to 
see that there was no delay in the transmission of corres- 
pondence to and from the Dutch East Indies. In 
March 1879 the Dutch postal agencies in Singapore and 
Penang were reorganised. These agencies (which are 
still in existence) deal with a great quantity of mail 
matter passing to and from the Netherlands East Indies 
via Singapore and Penang, and act as clearing-houses 
for the correspondence to and from innumerable small 
Netherlands East India ports, which have more frequent 
communication with Singapore and Penang than with 
the important towns in their own country. 

The Indian Stamp Act was only introduced into the 
Straits on the ist January 1863, and during the first four 
months of that year the total sold was Rs.79,651 ; but 
the revenue was on Indian account, and most of it was 
fiscal as distinct from postal. Buckley refers to the 
introduction of this law to the Straits: " The stamps 
sent were all in rupees, and there were no rupees, and no 
rate of exchange was provided for. Then the number of 
stamps was inadequate, and the natives did not under- 
stand about them . ' ' Stamps must have been available in 
Singapore before this date, however, for we find in the 


1862 Straits Almanack and Directory the following entry 
under "Trades and Professions": ''Postage stamp 
vendor, de Souza, Alex. M., Raffles Place." The first 
issue of postage stamps in India was in 1 854. 

The first postage stamps used in the Crown Colony 
were Indian stamps surcharged with a crown and the 
value in cents — nine different values of Indian stamps 
were so surcharged in 1867, the surcharges varying from 
'' three half-cents " to '' 32 cents." In 1868 the Colony 
issued its own stamps, a set of eight : 2c., 4c., 6c., 8c., 
I2C., 24c., 32c., 96c. ; and Indian stamps were no longer 
used here. A 30c. stamp was issued in 1872. In 1882 
5c. and IOC. stamps were produced ; in 1892, 3c. and 
$5. In April 1902 King Edward took Queen Victoria's 
place on the stamps, and a series, ic, 3c., 4c., 5c., 8c., 
IOC, 25c., 30c., 50c., $1, $2, $5, was issued. In this 
issue the " postage and revenue " stamps became 
unified. In 1904 the ic, 3c., 4c., and 8c. stamps bore 
new designs ; they all bore the portrait of the King's head 
in vignette: in the case of the ic. there is a coco-nut 
palm — one of the emblems of Singapore — on either side 
of His Majesty's portrait ; the 3c. shows similarly the 
Penang or betel-nut palm, emblematic of Penang; the 
4c. has the Gula Malacca (sugar-cane) palm for a sup- 
porter,usuallyassociatedwith theancientSettlement; and 
the 8c. bears a kris on either side, the typical weapon 
peculiar to Malaya. These stamps, which were designed 
by Mr. (now Sir) W. Egerton and Mr. Noel Trotter, 
superseded the design used in common, with a distin- 
guishing name-plate, by all British Crown Colonies, which 
have no special stamps of their own. The same series 
bore the effigy of King George after His Majesty's 
accession. In 191 1 a 21c. stamp was issued for use 
on telegrams and a 45c. stamp for use on parcels. 

The revised rates of postage brought into force on 
the ist January 191 8 necessitated the issue of two new 
values, 2C. and $6, and several colour changes. They 
had not, however, made their appearance at the date 
of the Centenary. 


An account of the very numerous surcharges which 
were issued from time to time (generally by reason of 
the constant reductions in postage), before 1892, of the 
frequent colour changes, differences of paper, water- 
marks, perforations, etc., would not be appropriate 
to a work of this nature ; but the use of Straits stamps 
in countries outside the Colony is a matter of some 
historic interest, for it is not widely known that all 
correspondence from the Malay States, Siam, Indo- 
China, Borneo, the Philippine Islands, Java, etc., for 
the rest of the world circulated through Singapore, and 
was prepaid by means of Straits stamps. In fact, the 
first stamps issued in Siam were the 1 867 Indian 2-anna 
stamps, supphed by this Colony to the British Legation 
at Bangkok in 1882, surcharged with a capital '' B " 
and "32 cents." As soon as the Straits issued their 
own stamps in 1868 the different values were similarly 
surcharged " B " for use on correspondence from 
Siam for other countries. The use of these stamps in 
Siam ceased on the ist July 1885, when that State 
joined the Postal Union. 

Until 1 880 it had been the practice of many mercantile 
firms in the Philippines to send their correspondence 
from Europe under cover to Singapore to be posted — 
the enclosures bearing Straits stamps ; this ceased 
with the opening of direct communication between 
Manila and Europe, Spanish stamps then being used. 

Sarawak correspondence for the outer world bore 
Straits stamps until that State joined the Postal Union, 
on the I St July 1897. Similarly with the Federated 
Malay States and Johore it was not until the ist January 
1899 that their stamps were recognised as valid pre- 
payment of postage to other parts of the world. After 
the ist January 1899 Straits stamps were used nowhere 
outside the Colony — except that in 1900, owing to an 
unexpected delay in the receipt of their new stamps, the 
Federated Malay States were supplied with Straits 
stamps to the value of $9,360. The amount of Straits 
stamps sold to the various Malay States in 1896 was 


Perak, $5,630 ; Selangor, $6,047 ; Negri Sembilan, 
$912; Pahang, $1,435; and Johore, $182; Sarawak 
took $442, making a grand total of $14,628, or about 
£1,500 sterling. In 1897 the total was $13,938, 
and 1898, $14,433. The stamps used in the various 
Malay States were surcharged with the name of the 

Money order commission was paid in stamps from 
1888 to the 3 1 St March 1 895 . Telegrams have been pre- 
paid by means of stamps since 1908. 

In 1886 an Ordinance was passed to render penal in 
the Colony the manufacture, issue, or sale of forged foreign 
postage stamps, and similar provision is made in the 
current Post Office Ordinance V of 1904. 

On the 1 7th February 19 1.6 two kinds of special stamps 
were on sale — not available for postage purposes — 
for the benefit of Lord Roberts's Memorial Workshops 
and Local Relief Fund. There was very little demand 
for them, however, on account of their uselessness for 
postal purposes and consequent disinterest to philatelists. 
They were withdrawn in 191 8. Red Cross stamps 
were issued in 191 7 — they were the ordinary 3c. and 4c. 
stamps surcharged *' Red Cross — 2 cents," and were 
sold at 5c. and 6c. respectively. They were available 
for local postage purposes to the original value of the 
stamps, the additional 2c. on each stamp being credited 
to the Red Cross Fund. These stamps, which, as was 
to be expected, were much more popular than the 
non-postage stamps issued in 191 6, were withdrawn 
in 191 8 under instructions. 

Stamp booklets were placed on sale in December 
19 16, containing ic, 3c., and 4c. stamps. These proved 
popular, and a new book containing only 4c. stamps 
was issued in 191 7. They were sold at $1 each, the 
face value of the stamps. 

International post cards (3 cents) were introduced in 
September 1879, and sold at slightly above face value. 
Since May 1883, however, they have been sold for the 
face value of the stamps impressed on the cards. Local 


post cards (i cent) were issued on the 15 th December 
1884, for use in the Straits, Malay States, and Johore. 
Reply post cards for local and foreign use were introduced 
in January 1885. 

Official registration envelopes in five sizes have been 
available since February 1891. 

Relations with Neighbouring States 

The treaty of the 20th June 1826, between the 
Honourable East India Company and the King of Siam, 
contained the following curious article : 

" If any Englishman desires to transmit a letter to 
any person in a Siamese or other country, such person 
only and no other shall open and look into the letter. 
If a Siamese desire to transmit a letter to any person 
in an English or any other country, such person only 
and no other shall open and look into the letter." 

During 1881 the Government of Siam, with a view 
to establish post offices in that kingdom, sent an officer 
to Singapore to gain an insight into the Straits system, 
and it was hoped that this would further Siam's wish 
to be brought into direct postal communication with 
the rest of the world. There was no post office in Siam 
at that time, but she joined the Postal Union on the ist 
July 1885, and it was no longer necessary for all corres- 
pondence to and from Siam to pass a decouvert through 

The Maharaja of Johore consulted the Postmaster- 
General of the Colony in 1 871 with a view of establishing 
a postal service with compulsory repayment and free 
delivery at either end, but postal communication was 
not established with Johore until June 1884. The 
mails were conveyed by coach until the railway opened 
in 1903. 

The Postmaster-General of the Straits went to Java 
in 1 867 to arrange a connection with the Dutch Govern- 
ment, the great feature of which was to secure free 
delivery throughout Netherlands India of all letters 


prepaid with Straits Settlements stamps, the Straits 
reciprocally undertaking to deliver free in this Colony 
letters from the Netherlands India for the Straits when 
prepaid with Dutch stamps. 

Singapore's unique geographical position on the great 
highway placed the Settlement in a position to influence 
the postal arrangements of the neighbouring Malay 
and foreign states, many of which followed closely at 
her heels in introducing new systems and in extending 
old ones. We have seen in preceding pages how and 
why the neighbouring States used Straits stamps on 
their foreign correspondence, practically all of which 
was dealt with by the Straits Post Office ; how, after 
estabhshing a local parcel post with the Malay States 
Singapore became the intermediary for the transmission 
of parcels from those States to the rest of the world 
and vice versa ; similarly with money orders until the 
Malay States arranged their own direct exchanges with 
other countries ; how much more closely connected 
the States and the Settlements became on the comple- 
tion of the through railway and the overland telegraph ; 
how a Local Postal Union grew up, introducing low and 
uniform rates of postage, and comprising the Straits, 
the Federated Malay States, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, 
Trengganu, Pedis, Sarawak, British North Borneo, 
and Brunei ; how the Malayan Telegraph Agreement 
between the Straits, Federated Malay States, and Kedah 
gave uniformity and a low charge in the matter of 
telegraphic arrangements. 

Straits officers visited and reported on postal matters 
in the Malay States from time to time, and Mr. Noel 
Trotter wrote in his 1893 report : 

" I attach no slight importance to the improvement 
and development of the postal relation between the 
Colony and the Native States by the organisation and 
maintenance of a complete system, based on uniform 
principles and applicable throughout the Straits and 
British Malaya. I think it would be a departmental 
as well as a public advantage if the Post Office of the 


Straits and the Peninsula were formed into one service ; 
but there are difficulties at present in the way of the 
realisation of this idea, the most prominent being the 
financial one, although one of the results would be that 
of economy." 

In June 1902 Mr. Trotter proceeded to the Federated 
Malay States to report on the postal service there, and 
to advise regarding the adoption of a uniform system 
throughout the States. This resulted in the appoint- 
ment of a Director of Posts and Telegraphs for the 
Federated Malay States in 1904, and the organisation 
of the Post Office of the several States on a federal and 
uniform basis. 


His Majesty's Postmaster-General has no powers or 
privileges in relation to posts within the Colony. The 
powers and privileges of the Postmaster-General of the 
Straits Settlements are defined in the several Straits 
Ordinances governing the Post Office, money orders, 
the telegraphs (including telephones and wireless) and 
the Savings Bank. 

In Singapore the Post Office was for many years under 
the Master Attendant. In 1855 he had the assistance 
of a Postmaster with a salary of £2>9^ to carry on 
the more immediate duties in connection with the 
Post Office. In 1856 a letter, very numerously signed 
by the merchants, was sent to Government suggesting 
that the Post Office was becoming of great importance, 
and recommending separation from the Marine Office 
and the appointment of Mr. William Cuppage as Post- 
master, this gentleman having carried out the duties 
since before 1831, though nominally under the Harbour 
Master. Mr. Cuppage became Postmaster, and acted 
as Postmaster-General in 1 869, when this appointment 
was created. 

Mr. Henry Trotter came from Ceylon to be the first 
Postmaster-General of the Colony in 1871, and remained 
in the post until May 1882, when he was succeeded 


by Mr. E. E. Isemonger. Except for comparatively 
short periods, during which Mr. H. A. O'Brien performed 
the duties of his post as Postmaster-General, Mr. Noel 
Trotter acted as Postmaster-General from 1883 to 1895, 
when he was appointed to the post which he continued 
to hold until his retirement in 1907. In 1907 Mr. W. G. 
Bell became Postmaster-General, and in 1916 Mr. F. 
M. Baddeley, the present holder. 

For nearly forty years the Trotters, father and son, 
directed the progress of the Straits Post Office. Their 
memory still lives in the Department, for there are a 
few of the staff who remember the father, and many 
who remember the son, with the greatest respect and 
affection. They were of the old school, and their 
hospitality and innumerable kindnesses to their staff 
have left the happiest recollections. Enthusiasm was 
encouraged and guided into the best channels, and many 
have regretted not having had a few more years of that 
guidance and unselfish assistance. There can be no 
more fitting conclusion to this chapter than the letter 
addressed to Mr. Noel Trotter on his retirement in 1907 
by representative members ofthe commercial community, 
and the reply which suggests to the reader some of the 
ideals which actuated his management of the Post 
Office. When Mr. Noel Trotter retired in 1907, the 
father, Mr. Henry Trotter, was still alive and well, 
and it was a rare pleasure to see father and son both 
enjoying their retirement. 

" Singapore, 
" 25th February 1907. 

** Henry Noel Cortlandt Trotter, Esq., 

Postmaster-General Straits Settlements, Singapore. 
'^ Dear Sir, 

** The Merchants, Bankers, Members of the legal 
profession, and others concerned in the Commerce of 
Singapore, on learning of your decision to retire from 
the office of Postmaster-General of the Straits Settle- 
ments, have felt that it is due to you to mark in some 
tangible form their appreciation of the manner in which 


II. 162] 


their interests have been studied and advanced through 
the highly efficient, organisation into which the Postal 
Service of the Straits Settlements has been brought by 
you during the long term of your administrative direction 
of that Department, and they decided to ask you to 
accept a memento of their appreciation in the form of 
silver plate. 

" A movement towards this end at once received 
very hearty and general response, with the result that 
$1,460 have been contributed for the purpose, by widely 
spread subscriptions, a list of which is enclosed. 

*' As you are about to return to England, it is felt that 
the form and design of plate most appropriate and suit- 
able for this presentation can best be left to your own 
choice and decision. It has, therefore, been decided 
tohandyouthe amountsubscribed (cheque now enclosed), 
and ask you to procure in England, as the gift to you of 
the subscribers, such form of silver plate as your own 
preference may suggest. 

*' The subscribers to this presentation ask that you will 
have the following superscription engraved upon their 
gift, viz. : 



Straits Settlements 

On his retirement after thirty years of service in 
that Department. 

In appreciation of the high state of efficiency into 
which his life's work has brought the Postal organisation 
of the Straits Settlements. 

A presentation subscribed for by Merchants, Bankers, 
Members of the legal profession, and others concerned 
in the Commerce of Singapore. 

"Singapore, Straits Settlements, 
25th February 1907. 

" On behalf of the subscribers we thank you for your 
invariable study of their interests, and we add the 


expression of their hope that you may long have health 
and happiness in the Home Country to which you are 

" For the subscribers 
'' Believe us to be, yours very truly, 
" Thos. S. Baker 
** C. Mc Arthur 
" W. J. Napier 
" John Anderson." 

" Singapore, 
" 25th February 1907. 

** To The Honourable John Anderson, The Honourable 
W. J. Napier, D.C.L., The Honourable T. S. Baker, 
C. McArthur, Esq. 

" Dear Sirs, 

" I have much pleasure in acknowledging the 
receipt of your letter of this day's date, on behalf of 
the Merchants, Bankers, Members of the legal profession, 
and others concerned in the Commerce of Singapore, 
expressing their appreciation of my work in the Postal 
Departm.ent of the Straits Settlements, and enclosing 
a cheque for $1,460 to be used by me in purchasing a 
memento in the form of silver plate. 

" No commendation could be more gratifying to me 
than that of the Mercantile Community, which has had 
the widest opportunities of judging my work ; and from 
the bottom of my heart I thank the very representative 
body of subscribers, whose names are given in the list 
accompanying your letter, for the very handsome and 
exceptional recognition, both verbal and tangible, of 
my official service. 

" I shall be very proud to carry out the wishes of the 
subscribers with regard to the inscription to be engraved 
on their generous gift. 

" I have always considered that my first duty was 
to the public, and my constant aim in managing the 
Post Office was to secure efficiency, or in other words to 
provide a safe, quick, cheap, and up-to-date service, 
with an absence of red-tape. 


' * Whatever results have been accomphshed could not 
have been achieved without the excellent esprit de corps 
which has animated all branches of the staff, to w^hom 
much credit is due. 

" I am also extremely grateful for the very good wishes 
contained in the final paragraph of your letter, and I 
shall ever retain the happiest recollections of the har- 
monious relations which have always existed between 
the public and myself. 

" As my time is so short, it will be impossible for me 
to personally thank all the subscribers, and I would, 
therefore, ask you to add to your kindness to me by 
acting as the channel for conveying my heartfelt thanks 
to them. 

" Believe me, 

" Yours very truly, 

*' Noel Trotter.'* 


By Walter Makepeace 

The climatic and geographical conditions of Singapore 
affect the personnel of the firms that carry on business 
here (since practically every business man has to go on 
frequent leave) and the length of life of the firms, hence 
the personal element of the trader is of such great im- 
portance. The history of the firms of the Colony shows 
a surprising number of firms founded by men who have 
come out to other establishments and have chosen to 
" go on their own." There has also been a considerable 
amount of changing from firm to firm among the juniors 
who subsequently became seniors, and, as an inevitable 
result of changing conditions of trade, many absorptions 
have taken place. An attempt is made to put on 
record a brief history of the oldest or most important 
firms in the place at the outbreak of war in August 
1914, the circumstances of trade during the War being 
so far removed from the normal that its permanent 
effect on the history of Singapore cannot yet be 

There are also included many firms that have been at 
one time or another in existence in the town, these 
including the German and Austrian concerns closed under 
War Regulations. 

Neither list is claimed to be complete, and the Direc- 
tories of the last ten years are so readily available that 
it was not considered necessary to elaborate the recent 
life-history of the businesses, except in a few cases. 



The Telegraph Company 

The first mention of the electric telegraph is found 
in 1859, when the Dutch Government laid the Singapore- 
Batavia line, the first message being sent on the 24th 
November. Congratulations were exchanged between 
the Governors of the colonies thus connected ; but then 
the cable s.napped, and there is no indication that the 
communication was ever restored beyond an entry in 
the 1 860 Directory : " Electric Telegraph Establishment — ■ 
Office right bank, river side. The line is open between 
Singapore and Batavia. D. Gollner, Chief; Schreyner, 

In 1863 there was a small shed in the Square used for 
the telegraph line from Singapore to New Harbour; J. 
Fisher, Proprietor ; W. Allen, Manager. Fisher was a 
partner of Fisher and Riley, engineers, later Riley, 
Hargreaves and Co. This local line was evidently of 
considerable use. In 1873 it is recorded as disabled by 
a thunderstorm. 

The cable to Madras was completed on the 31st 
December 1870, and opened to the public in January 
1 871, " thus placing Singapore in direct communication 
with India, Europe, Great Britain, and America." The 
office was in Prince's Street, in a house leased from the 
Sultan of Johore. On the 14th April it is recorded that 
the result of the University Boat Race was telegraphed 
out in four minutes to Bombay. On the 19th May 1871 
the ships to lay the China telegraph cable sailed, the 
Agnes, Belgian, Minia, and Kangaroo. The Agnes was 
the smallest of the four, and took one hundred miles, 
returning when it was laid. The question of the branch 
to Saigon was then unsettled. The buoys were placed 
at Cape St. James the following year, and the cable 
joined up. Mr. J. W. Fuller was the first Manager in 
Singapore, and when he retired, on the 9th January 
1874, he received an address from the merchants 
recognising his courteous services. Mr. Bennett Pell 
succeeded him in 1881 — he lived at Grasslands, River 
II — 12 


Valley Road — and the Graham Bell telephone, invented 
in 1876 and coming into use in 1878, was in use in the 
Telegraph Office, Singapore, in 1881 as a private 
venture of Mr. Pell. The Singapore venture was then 
the Oriental Telephone Company. The Penang belonged 
to a Mr. Gott, and that was taken over by Government. 
Mr. Grigor Taylor, who succeeded him, was Manager 
of the Telephone Co. in Singapore. Mr. Grigor Taylor 
was a well-known and much respected resident of 
Singapore for many years, and when he left, in September 
1902, Singapore ceased to be the headquarters of the 
General Manager, and became a district. The per- 
manency of the staff of the Telegraph Company is a 
great feature of the history of Singapore. For instance, 
A. Y. Gahagan, who was still Manager in 191 2, was 
a member of the Singapore Cricket Club Committee 
in 1 88 1, and the record of the following members of the 
staff in that year extends well over the quarter of a 
century : Mr. J. C. D. Jones, electrician ; Mr. J. C. Cuff, 
assistant electrician ; Messrs. K. A. Stevens, A. C. M. 
Weaver, J. H. D. Jones, A. J. Collier (of Malacca). 
Mr. J. C. H. Darby is the oldest member of the service 
now in the Straits (arrived 1883) ; Mr. H. K. C. Fisher, 
who retired from the Straits in 191 7, having been on the 
staff in 1880, died soon after retirement. 

The dates of laying the various cables now existing 
are Madras, Penang, Singapore, 1870, diiplicated in 1891; 
to Hongkong and St. James, 1871 ; Singapore-Batavia 
and Australia, 1871 ; Singapore-Banjoewangi, 1879; 
Cocos Island, 1908; direct Colombo, Penang, Singapore, 
1 9 14. The Company's cable ships with considerable 
times of service in the Straits are the Sherard Osborn, 
1878 to 1902 (Captain Worsley, later Captains W. S. 
Fawcus, G. V. Madge, Dunmall, and Rushton) ; Recorder 
(Captain Madge, Captain Dunmall); Agnes, 1872 to 
1885 ; Edinburgh, 1872 to 1878. In the course of their 
work out East most important ocean sounding has been 
done, of which careful record was kept and report sent 
home to the Admiralty to be entered into the official 


charts. Thus we find in 1889 that from a report 
furnished by Captain Madge, of the Recorder ^ the Hector 
Bank in the Carimata Straits has been replaced on the 
Admiralty charts. 

One of the most important of these sounding expedi- 
tions may be mentioned, that for the Cape-Australia 
cable in 1901, the soundings having been taken in 1900, 
when the Sherard Osborn deep was discovered between 
Adelaide and Mauritius via Gocos — 5,500 miles — ^when 
over 440 soundings were taken in depths up to 3,550 

The first instrument used was the mirror. About 1 879 
this was replaced by the siphon recorder. The auto- 
matic cable relay was introduced about 1900, and a late 
development of it is the direct connection between Aden 
and Singapore, the automatic relay being at Colombo. 
The development in number of connections, in perfection 
of instruments and cables, is paralleled by the increase 
of staff and business. 

In 1 89 1 the Eastern Extension, Australasia and China 
Telegraph Company was the successor or amalgamator 
(about 1873) of the British India Extension Telegraph 
Company, the China Submarine Telegraph Company, the 
British Australasian Cable Company. The staff of the 
Company at Singapore numbered fifty-three, not in- 
cluding the shops. Last year's list includes 116 for 
the Singapore office alone. The increase in commercial 
and cable work is shown by the figures for March 1 874, 
when 74,900 words were signalled by the Singapore 
station, and March 191 4, when the total was 1,111,416. 

Previous to 1886 spare cable was stored in an exca- 
vation at Keppel Harbour, on the site of the present 
boat-building shed. In 1879 a sailing ship, the Southern 
Ocean, arrived from England (her chief officer was Mr. 
H. Owen, for many years in command of local steamers, 
and latterly a pilot). She was fitted with tanks, and 
was converted into a hulk for stores and spare cable. 
She lay off Tanjong Rhu until 1886. (In November 
1884 Mr., Gardner, cable foreman on this hulk, died of 


hydrophobia, this being the first authenticated case of 
this disease in Singapore.) In 1886 the Cable Depot 
was built at Keppel Harbour on land leased from the 
New Harbour Dock Company, five tanks from the hulk, 
and four new ones. In 1896 the area was doubled by a 
lease of further ground, and a factory for the manufac- 
ture of cable from picked up gutta-percha core was 
started. At present the number of tanks is seventeen, 
capacity 95,000 cubic feet, holding 1,600 miles of inter- 
mediate cable. In 191 1 electric motors were installed, 
power being supplied by the Singapore Harbour Board. 
In 1903 the Sherard Osborn was sold to the Eastern 
Telegraph Company and replaced by the Patrol. In 
1904 the Magnet was purchased as a third ship. The 
Sherard Osborn was named after a distinguished naval 
officer who wrote a book about " Quedah." The Agnes 
was named after his daughter. 

Oriental Telephone and Electric Co. 

Mr. Bennett Pell, of the Telegraph Co., was the 
owner of a small private telephone system, installed 
soon after the invention of the Graham Bell Telephone. 
In 1878 a trial had been made on Mr. Fisher's telegraph 
line from the Square to New Harbour, and a sample 
instrument was placed in the Raffles Museum. On the 
ist July 1882 the Oriental Telephone Co. bought out 
Mr. Bennett Pell, the owner, trading as John Eraser 
and Co. 

The exchange was situated on the first floor of Messrs. 
Paterson, Simons and Co.'s offices, Prince's Street, and 
comprised a 50-line standard plug switchboard without 
cords. When taken over by the Oriental Co., the 
Exchange was removed (in 1898) to 91 Robinson Road, 

The first Manager of the Company was Mr. J. B. 
Saunders in 1885, followed by Mr. John Sibbons in 1893. 

The subscribers in 1882 were: Behn, Meyer and Co., 
Bernard and Son, Borneo Co., Ltd., Boustead and Co., 
Brennand and Wilkinson Co., Cameron, Dunlop and Co., 


Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, Chartered 
Mercantile Bank of India, etc., Crane Bros., The Singa- 
pore Exchange, John Eraser, Hamilton, Gray and Co., 
Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, Katz Bros., John Little 
and Co., Maclaine, Eraser and Co., Mansfield and Co., 
Martin, Dyce and Co., McKerrow, William and Co., 
McAlister and Co. ,MessageriesMaritimesCie., Netherlands 
Trading Society, Oriental Banking Co., Paterson, Simons 
and Co., Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., 
Powell and Co., John Purvis, Puttfarcken, Rheiner and 
Co., Rautenberg, Schmidt and Co., Dr. Robertson, J. D. 
Ross, jr., Sayle and Co., W. R. Scott and Co., Syme 
and Co., Tanjong Pagar Dock Co., Eastern Extension 
Telegraph Co., Gilfillan, Wood and Co., Guthrie and Co., 
New Harbour Dock Co., Ltd., The Maharaja of Johore. 

In 1907 the Company transferred their connection 
from the two exchanges at Robinson Road and Tanglin 
to a central exchange in Hill Street, where a lamp- 
signalling system was brought into use. In 1908 Mr. 
John Sibbons retired from the Company's service, and 
was succeeded by Mr. P. H. Gibbs. For health reasons 
Mr. P. H. Gibbs found it necessary to resign in 191 5, 
and Mr. J. D. Pierrepont was then appointed Manager 
of the branch. In December 1916 the Company 
suffered an unfortunate experience in having their 
exchange burnt out, and at the present time a central 
battery exchange is in course of being erected. There 
are now 1,832 exchange lines. 

The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation 

Co., Ltd. 

The actual commencement of the P. and O. Company 
was when the Iberia left England in 1837, with the 
Peninsular mails. Down to 1840 the mails to and 
from India were carried by the H.E.I.C. in their own 
steamers between Alexandria, Bombay, and Suez, and 
by steamers of the Imperial Government between 
Alexandria and Gibraltar. Alexandria to England was 
three or four weeks. In 1840 the Oriental, of 1,600 tons 


and 450 h.p., and the Great Liverpool, of 1,540 tons, were 
despatched with the Peninsular and Indian mails. These 
were the first of the P. and O. mails. The line east of 
Suez was opened by the Hindustan in 1842 (1,800 tons), 
which went round the Cape. In 1844 a contract was 
made for the extension of the P. and O. line to Singapore 
and Hongkong at 175. per mile. In this year the fleet 
consisted of fourteen ships, including the Hindustan, 
the Bentinck, and the Precursor. Also, William C. 
Crane was agent for Waghorn and Co. in Singapore. 
The landmarks of the Company's property in Singapore 
bear date 1850. 

The Overland Route is as old as history. Lieutenant 
Waghorn revived it — eighteen hours' journey, ninety 
miles across the desert in an omnibus on a road hardly 
distinguishable from the desert. Fresh water and coal 
had to be carried by the same route (coal was cheaper 
sent this way than round the Cape by sailing ships). 
The railway was completed in 1858. The P. and O. spent 
on an average ;£52 5,ooo per annum in coal, and Singa- 
pore stocked 8,000 tons. In 1853 the mail was sent 
every other month to Sydney by way of Singapore. The 
main line was 12 knots, the branch lines 10 J knots, 
and 8 1 knots between Singapore and Sydney, the Hima- 
laya, Nubia, Pera, and Colombo ; in 1853, Simla, Valetta, 
Bengal, and Vectis. In 1857 a strenuous attempt was 
made by the European and Australian Co. to obtain the 
contract, but it failed miserably. In 1869 the Suez 
Canal was opened. For four years the mails were 
actually landed at Alexandria and taken overland to 
Suez, where they were embarked on the same steamers 
which had passed through the canal. In this year the 
P. and O. offices in Singapore were in Battery Road and 
at New Harbour. Mr. H. T. Marshall was Superin- 

This is an early phase of the *' fares " question. In 
January 1853 a circular was issued announcing a " con- 
siderable reduction " in fares. On the ist March 1854, 
" owing to the increased price in coal," the fares were 

• p. AND O. COMPANY 173 

increased, being then $600 from Singapore to Southamp- 
ton, payable in Spanish, Mexican, or Peruvian dollars. 
A promise was given of reduction when possible, which 
promise was redeemed on the 9th August 1856, the fare 
Southampton to Singapore falling from £125 to £110; 
but excess luggage had to be paid for at the rate of 
$14.40 per cwt. 

It was not till 1888 that the Suez Canal route became 
the exclusive route for the mails, and the condition that 
the mails should be sent overland was withdrawn. The 
P. and O. Khedive had been put on in 1871, at a cost of 
£1 10,000, being under 4,000 tons, built by Caird and Co., 

With its fine general record for safety the Company 
has yet suffered losses, which have concerned the 
Straits, of recent years. The Bokhara^ of 2,994 tons, 
struck on dangerous rocks round the Pescadores in 
1892, and foundered with all on board, only seven Euro- 
peans and sixteen Lascars escaping to the island. A 
worse disaster was the loss of the Aden (4,200 tons) off 
the island of Socotra in 1897, on her voyage home from 
Yokohama. She carried thirty-four passengers and a 
valuable cargo. She encountered very bad weather 
from the ist June, when she left Colombo, with coal on 
deck to avoid calling at Aden, which coal successfully 
got into the bunkers on the 7th. No sights were obtain- 
able till the 8th June, when the ship's position was 
ascertained, and she struck on the 9th at 2.30 a.m., in 
very bad weather and a pitch-dark night. By the 
afternoon of the next day the captain had his leg broken, 
and was washed away, and the survivors remained 
aboard for seventeen days, being rescued on the 26th 

The P. and O. Company reached Singapore in 1844, 
when the first contract was made for the conveyance of 
mails to China via Ceylon. The contract was for 140 
hours from Ceylon to Penang and 4 s hours from there 
to Singapore, and the first mail steamer was the Lady 
Mary Wood, which arrived here on the 4th August. 


The service was monthly, and the early numbers of the 
Directories contain copies of the contracts . The passage- 
money was then £i6o, including transit through Egypt 
and stewards' fees. Spottiswoode and Connolly were the 
first P. and O. agents. But in 1852 Captain T. Marshall 
was the P. and O. agent, and he gave a ball in the recently 
completed offices at New Harbour, in honour of that 
and of the opening of the line to Australia, the first 
vessel being the Chusan, 700 tons. Next year, 1853, 
the mail was made twice a month, alternately via Galle 
and Calcutta. The landmarks of the property at 
Teluk Blanga are dated 1850. The local agent at 
Singapore naturally is an important member of the 
commercial community, and usually is stationed here 
for a considerable time. Captain James Gardiner 
Jellicoe (i860) was relieved by Mr. J. D. Caldbeck in 
1 87 1, whom Mr. H. W. Geiger succeeded the following 
year, retiring in 1 891 . The P. and O. then, and for many 
years aftenvards, had its own pilot. Under Mr. Geiger 
(1882-90) the passage Gravesend to Singapore was £6S, 
** including all canal dues," but the passenger Suez 
Canal transit was by rail. 

The P. and O. agents in Singapore since 1875 are as 
follows: J.R. Kellock(i875-7); H. W. Geiger (1878-83, 
1884-8); D. Low (1883-4); F. G. Davidson (acting 
1889-90); George King (1890-95); Frank Ritchie 
(1895-9) ; H. I. Chope (i 899-1906) ; L. S. Lewis (acting 
1906-7) ; H. W. Buckland (1907 to date). Mr. H. L 
Chope lost his life as the result of a carriage accident 
near Tanglin Club in January 1906. 

The present steel wharves of the Company were con- 
structed in 1908, and the railway siding on the Com- 
pany's property, connecting with the F.M.S. railway 
system, was completed in 191 5. 


Early in the history of Singapore the question of 
banking facilities was mooted. In 1833 the first pro- 
posal was made to found a Singapore bank, with a 


capital of $400,000, but nothing came of this proposal. 
Two years later a scheme was formulated for a Singapore 
and Ceylon bank, capital ;£200,ooo, to be limited by 
charter. This scheme was also abortive. In 1837 
Syme and Co. were offering advances in cash to nine- 
tenths of the value of the produce conveyed to their 
agents in London. John Gemmill did private banking 
business in 1839. 

The Union Bank of Calcutta opened a branch in 
December 1840, and three years later- appointed a 
committee of three merchants to assist in managing, 
but the Committee was objected to, as it would mean 
the disclosure to them of their competitors' business. 
Mr. A. G. Paterson came here to open the branch. This 
first bank made advances at 9 per cent, up to three- 
quarters of the value of the goods, up to 90 per cent, 
(at 7 per cent.) on bullion, and discount on bills ranged 
from 8 to 10 per cent. This bank was " Registered under 
the Indian Act." 

The Oriental Bank branch was here in 1846, prior 
to having been incorporated by Royal Charter on 
the 30th August 1856. It continued to operate in 
Singapore till 1884, when it stopped payment. 

On the 20th December 1855 the North- West Bank 
of India (headquarters, Calcutta) opened a branch at 
Singapore, under Mr. David Duff, who in 1859 became 
the first agent of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia 
and China in Singapore, which opened on the 19th 
February. Several of the most influential retired Singa- 
pore merchants were connected with the London 
Directorate, including Mr. James Fraser, of Maclaine, 
Fraser and Co. (died in 1872). The North- West Bank 
withdrew. The offices in 1 864 were at the north corner 
of the Square, near Prince's Street. 

In 1859 there were many banking agencies. Ker, 
Rawson and Co. held four ; the Borneo Co. represented 
the Government of Labuan and the Rajah of Sarawak. 

The branch of the Mercantile Bank of India, London 
and China was opened in 1855 by Mr. Walter Ormiston. 


(In 1842 Mr. T. O. Crane lived where the Mercantile 
Bank is now.) 

The New Oriental Bank, which took up the business 
of the old (Bank Lama), carried on till June 1892, when 
it failed, with liabilities $5,500,000. 

In 1864 there were four banks in the Square, the 
Chartered Mercantile, the Chartered, the Asiatic Banking 
Corporation, and the Oriental Bank. 

Having given this sketch of the early history of 
banking in Singapore, the following is a brief account of 
the chief banks now established in the Straits : 

The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and 
China was incorporated by Royal Charter, on the 
29th December 1853, with a capital of £644,000. By a 
supplemental charter dated the 20th July 1861, the 
agency then existing in Singapore was converted into 
a branch, with authority from Her Majesty's Treasury 
to establish branches at Penang and Malacca, and to 
issue notes in the three Settlements. On the 3rd Novem- 
ber 1863 the capital was fixed at ;£8oo,ooo. A second 
supplemental charter authorised the capital to be 
increased to ;^2,ooo,ooo, subject to the approval of 
H.M. Treasury. On the 29th December 1884 the 
charter was renewed. Some of the well-known managers 
in the Straits have been R. I. Harper (1871), T. Neave, 
T. H. Whitehead (1882), W. Dougal (who married a 
daughter of Dr. J. H. Robertson, of Singapore), 1883, 
and Mr. J. C. Budd. In 1884 the present Chartered 
Bank House at Cairn Hill was built. Since then, among 
the managers have been Mr. W. H. Frizell, Mr. E. M. 
Janion (1910), Mr. M. Morrison (191 2), and Mr. J. Greig 
(191 5-1 8). The Bank has had its office in three build- 
ings within the memory of living man : corner of Prince's 
Street and the Square, corner of Flint Street and 
Battery Road (first occupied the 5th February 1895), and 
now corner of Bonham Street and Battery Road, the 
last two buildings being constructed to its order. 

The Mercantile Bank of India, London and 
China existed prior to 1857 ^^ Bombay, but in that 


year a Royal Charter was obtained, and the Bank took 
the name of the Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, 
London and China. In October 1892 the Bank was 
voluntarily liquidated, and was reconstructed under the 
name of the Mercantile Bank of India. The branch 
in Malacca, the only bank in the old Settlement for 
many years, was closed in 1893. Mr. James Davidson 
was Manager in 1864. The best-known name in con- 
nection with the Mercantile Bank, however, is Mr. 
G. S. Murray (now Sir George Murray), who succeeded 
Mr. F. C. Bishop, reigned many years in Singapore 
(knighted in 1906), made money at the beginning of 
the rubber boom, in connection with W. W. Bailey 
and H. Payne Gallwey, and was of invaluable assistance 
to the Government in its difficult task of a note issue 
and of establishing a gold standard. Sir George Murray 
married Miss Dennys, daughter of Dr. N. B. Dennys, 
a man of singular ability and zeal in collecting facts 
connected with the Far East in 1880-94. (In 1872 
the banks were badly let in by the firm of Joshua Bros., 
who caused a loss of $400,000 by the manipulation of 
opium import certificates. A run on all the banks 
took place in November 1872, in consequence of the 
failure of the firm.) Mr. A. R. Linton, who was Acting 
Manager in 19 10, returned in 191 8. 

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corpora- 
tion was incorporated under Ordinance 5 of 1866 
(Hongkong), and in 1 871 Boustead & Co. were the agents. 
In that year Mr. T. Jackson (afterwards Sir Thomas 
Jackson) was agent at Yokohama, and Mr. Herbert 
Cope, who was afterwards agent in Singapore, was at 
Hankow. The Bank has achieved remarkable success, 
its projectors wisely placing the headquarters at Hong- 
kong. The circumstances of the foundation were 
exceptionally favourable. Although five other banks 
had branches in Hongkong, they appealed but slightly 
to local sentiment. The success of the new venture 
was something undreamt of in Colonial history. The 
original shares of $100 rose rapidly within a few months 


to 27 per cent, premium, and within five years, although 
large dividends had been declared, the reserve fund 
amounted to half a million of dollars. In 1866 the 
Bank received a check by the failure of Dent and Co., 
the head of which was a director of the Bank. A year 
or two later large advances to the Indo-Chinese Sugar 
Co. had worse results, and the Bank for the first time 
failed to pay a half-yearly dividend. But the earning 
capacity of the Corporation was so enormous that the 
former influential position was soon recovered. The 
Bank came to Singapore in 1877, and was incorporated 
that year in the Straits Settlements. The offices were 
in Collyer Quay, where Donaldson and Burkinshaw's 
office is now. In September 1890 the Bank purchased 
its present fine site, opposite the Singapore Club, from 
the Eraser Estate, the premises pulled down including 
those occupied by Messrs. A. L. Johnston and Co. and 
Robinsonand Co., and the new building being constructed 
under the supervision of Messrs. Swan and Maclaren, 
who made use of many of the old rails of the first Tram- 
way Company in constructing the vaults below. Some 
of the Managers have been Mr. J. P. Wade Gardner, 
Mr. G. W. Butt, Mr. J. C. Nicholson, Mr. T. S. Baker, 
and now Mr. J. C. Peter. 

In 1898 two ingenious Germans named Grosse and 
Schultze conceived the idea of importing forged Hong- 
kong Bank notes. They were arrested on the Preussen 
with $221,000, and later were duly convicted. 

In the twentieth century there has been a great 
development of the banking facihties in Singapore. The 
Nederlandsch Indische Bank (N.I. Commercial Bank) 
opened on ist June 1901. The Singapore branch of 
the Banque de ITndo-Chine was established in 1904 to 
give financial support to French enterprise in the Straits 
and Malaya. The Bank of Taiwan, created originally 
to serve as a State Bank for Taiwan (Formosa), opened 
its Singapore branch on the 2nd September 191 2. The 
Sze Hai Tong Bank, a Chinese enterprise, was founded 
in 1907. In 1908 there were nine banking establish- 


ments. The Chinese Commercial Bank came into 
existence in 191 2. 

A private enterprise called the Straits Banking Co. 
had a very brief life in 191 4. The Kwong Yik Bank 
was also formed in 1903, but its liquidation had to be 
arranged for with the aid of Government. 

Nederlandsch Indische Handelsbank. — ^This is 
an offshoot of the Algemeene Maatschappij voor Handel 
en Nijverheid, established at Amsterdam in April 1863. 
The Directors early established a head agency in Batavia 
on the 15 th March 1864, with an agency at Soerabaya 
and in Samarang the following year. It had many 
difficulties to contend with, among them the liquidation 
of the parent Algemeene Maatschappij, and the bad 
year 1883, when all produce, and especially sugar, 
greatly decreased; but with the formation of the N.I. 
Landbouw Maatschappij the Bank entered upon a 
new lease of life. An agency was opened in Singapore 
in 1 90 1, and at Hongkong in 1906. The Managers of 
the Bank in Singapore have been R. A. van Santen 
(1901-3), P. Huga (1903-9), J- T. Lohmann (1909-10), 
W. E. van Heukelom (1910-12), C. Woldringh (1912-14), 
G. H. Theunissen (1914-16), E. J. H. van Delden 
(1916-18) and W. J. de Graan (1918). 

The International Banking Corporation, which 
is closely affiliated with the National City Bank of New 
York, one of the largest banks in the world, and holding 
a controlling number of shares in the International 
Banking Corporation, came to Singapore in 1903, and 
opened at No. i Prince's Street, the General Manager 
then being Mr. J. B. Lee, a well-known figure in the 
Straits, who was in charge till 1908. Mr. H. T. S. 
Green, at one time Sub-Manager of the Hongkong and 
Shanghai Bank in London, succeeded, and is still General 
Manager and President. The first Manager of the Singa- 
pore branch was Mr. Alwyn Richards, who was suc- 
ceeded by Mr. J. L. Lyon, Mr. J. K. Moir, Mr. W. H. 
Rose (all formerly of the Mercantile Bank), Mr. L. R. 
Macphail (at present a broker in Singapore), Mr. D. G. 


Maclennan (since dead), and Mr. Walter Greig (now in 
the Yokohama branch). Mr. Rose returned as Manager 
in 1917. 

The Commercial Firms 

Abrams Motor Hiring and Transport Co. — One 
of the characters of Singapore for a quarter of a century 
was Mr. H . Abrams. ' ' Daddy Abrams ' ' was the founder 
of Abrams 's Horse Repository on leaving the service 
of H.H. the Sultan of Johore. Singapore, from a very 
early date, in spite of a limited number of roads, was a 
great place for horses and carriages, at first imported. 
Madame Pfeiffer, who made a tour round the world, 
and called at Singapore in 1852, specially mentions that 
" the whole island is intersected with excellent roads, 
of which those skirting the sea-shore are most frequented, 
where handsome carriages and horses from New Holland, 
and even from England, are to be seen." The firm of 
Lambert and Co. was established in 1865, and in 1880-90 
built very excellent vehicles at their factory in Orchard 
Road (near where Kelly and Walsh's printing works 
now stand), with imported machinery and European 
coach-builders. Mr. Abrams, an exceedingly good judge 
of a horse and a shrewd business man, withal a most 
genial character, was the leading horse-dealer and 
trainer, as well as a fine jockey in his younger days. 
Mr. J. E. Elphick and Mr. P. S. Falshaw were veterinary 
surgeons to Abrams, and some of the cleverest jockeys 
had their early or late training under "Daddy": 
E. Calder, W. Dalian (died in 1901), and H. S. Kirwan. 
Residents in the 'Eighties and 'Nineties will remember 
the inimitable Jinks, a right-hand man when it came 
to breaking horses into harness. Daddy used to keep 
a famous grey called " Patent Safety" for beginners; 
but the animal belied his name when the late Arnot 
Reid, Editor of the Straits Times, fell off him while 
sauntering round the Esplanade. Perhaps it was the 
unaccustomed " high horse " that did it. Mr. C. W. 
Abrams came out to his father as veterinary surgeon 


about 1900. A rival establishment, the Straits Horse 
Repository (i 885-1908), under W. Dalian (and later 
Peter Dalian) and C. D. H. Currie (an early veterinary 
surgeon to come to Singapore), was established. But 
it was the advent of the motor-car that caused the 
greatest change in Abrams's, and led to the formation 
of Abrams's Motor Hiring and Transport Co. 

Adamson, Gilfillan and Co. 

GiLFiLLAN, Wood and Co. — The early history of this 
firm involves men very well known in the Victorian 
age of the Straits. Mr. H. W. Wood came to Singapore 
in 1 85 1 to join Syme and Co., and remained with that 
firm till 1857, when he joined the newly formed Borneo 
Co., of which he was in 1859a manager, with Mr. Samuel 
Gilfillan and Mr. W. Adamson as assistants. In the 
1867 Directory Mr. H. W. Wood, Gaylang House, 
Tanah Merah Road, appears in the list of residents, 
and as a director of Tanjong Pagar Dock Co., Ltd., 
and Mr. S. Gilfillan as a J. P. living at Siglap; but curiously 
no reference is made to them in the Mercantile Directory. 
Next year Mr. Wood had gone to live at Woodside, 
the [sic] Grange Road ; he appears as a member of the 
Library Committee, Deputy Chairman of the Chamber of 
Commerce, Attorney for the liquidator of the Asiatic 
Banking Corporation, and the Resident Partner of Gil- 
fillan, Wood and Co., established 1867, Messrs. Gilfillan 
and Adamson being in London, and James Miller being 
an assistant, the branch firm being Adamson, Gilfillan 
and Co., London. This seems to settle without doubt that 
the firm was established in 1867. Mr. W. Adamson 
first appears in 1856 as an assistant in McEwen and Co. 
(founded in 1842), of which firm Mr. Samuel Gilfillan 
had been an assistant from 1854, or a year or two 
earlier. In the i860 Directory a pencilled memo, by 
the late J. D. Vaughan mentions Mr. Adamson as 
*' Siam " — two years previously he was mentioned as 
" assistant in Borneo Co., resident at Teluk Blanga." 
The history of Mr. Adamson is almost that of Singapore 


for a long time. In March 1 862 he proposed, at a public 
meeting, a bridge across the Singapore River near 
Ellenborough Market. He was a promoter of the 
Singapore-Tanjong Pagar Railway (1871 — a resuscita- 
tion of the 1865-6 plan), and after his retirement in 
1 890 was for many years Chairman of the Straits Settle- 
ments Association. Mr. Gilfillan retired to London 
in 1 88 1. He is credited, with A. T. Carmichael, of the 
Chartered Bank, with instituting a weekly half-holiday, 
which was taken sometimes on Saturdays, sometimes, 
to suit the mail, on Wednesdays. Mr. James Sword 
was a partner of the firm in 1881, and Mr. James Miller, 
while Mr. G. P. Owen was an assistant a year previously. 
In 1895 the Partners were S. Gilfillan, W. Adamson, 
H. W. Wood (London), J. Miller, T. E. Earle, G. F. 
Adamson, F. W. Barker, John Somerville, Chas. Mc- 
Arthur, and M. E. Plumpton (a great " soccer " man at 
that time). The growth of the firm may be judged 
from the fact that at this time it held the agencies of 
the Pacific Mail, Occident and Oriental Steamship Co., 
the agency of the P. and O. Co. at Penang (which branch 
was established about 1884), six insurance companies, 
the China, Japan and Straits Bank, and the Sungei 
Ujong Railway. In 1900 the staff included W. S. 
Coutts, A. J. Macdonald, H. W. Noon, F. L. Tomhn, 
F. C. Muhlinghaus, and C. F. Minnitt in charge of the 
insurance businesses. The Managers in 1905 were John 
Somerville and M. E. Plumpton, the latter also being 
here with Mr. A. J. Campbell Hart in 19 10, Mr. F. L. 
Tomhn, the present Manager, and Mr. H. A. Low, the 
present Penang Manager, signing per pro. At the time of 
the outbreak of war the Directors in London were still 
Samuel Gilfillan, Sir W. Adamson, C.M.G., H. W. Wood, 
R. T. Peake ; and in Singapore, M. E. Plumpton; 
the Managers : London^, Campbell Hart ; Singapore, 
F. L. Tomlin ; Penang, H. A. Low ; twelve European 
assistants, and three in charge of insurance work ; 
seven steamship agencies, nine insurance, and numerous 
general and commercial agencies. The Company was 


registered on the 6th October 1904, and then assumed the 
name of Adamson, Gilfillan and Co. 

Adelphi Hotel.— This was first estabhshed in 1863 
in the building in Coleman Street now known as the 
Burlington, and in the 'Seventies the Proprietor was 
A. Puhlmann, his widow subsequently carrying on the 
business to the late 'Eighties. The big building now 
occupied was built on the site of the old Hotel de la 
Paix, and at the corner of North Bridge Road there 
was a concert and dancing hall — the original Tingel- 
tangel — owing its origin to a Mr. Finkelstein. Later 
the Tingel-tangel was removed along North Bridge 
Road, and lasted for many years under Austrian control, 
there being a very decent string band, the lady-performers 
being allowed to dance with visitors. Sometimes 
rather rowdy scenes occurred, but the Tingel-tangel was, 
on the whole, very well conducted, and the band had 
outside engagements, as at the Children's Fete of the 
Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee in 1897. 

Barker, Arthur. — Mr. A. Barker came to the Straits 
in 1889, and has carried on business continuously since. 
Mr. H. W. Noon (now of Guthrie and Co., Ltd.) was with 
the firm in 1905. The firm is now Barker and Keng 
Chuan, Mr. Keng Chuan having started as salesman to 
Mr. Barker before 1895. At the outbreak of war 
Barker and Co. represented in Singapore twenty-five 
business concerns. 

Becher, Louis and Co. was formed in 1889 by Mr. 
H. M. Becher, Henry Louis, and H. Hamilton Gunn, with 
W. F. A. Thomae as metallurgist. They were the agents 
of Bentong and Kechau. Like most mining engineers, 
they all had adventurous lives. H. M. Becher was 
drowned in the Pahang River. Mr. Louis is now a 
professor in England. 

Barker and Co., Ltd. — Mr. F. Wilson Barker came 
out to Messrs. Gilfillan, Wood and Co. in the early 
'Nineties, but left that firm and started business under 
the name of F. W. Barker and Co. as Accountant and 
Estate Agent about 1902. In 1904 Mr. Lowther Kemp, 


A.C.A., and in 1905 Mr. Oswald Kimmel, joined him as 
assistants. Mr. Lowther Kemp and Mr. Kimmel took 
over the business in 1909 when Mr. Barker retired. 
The firm then employed four assistants and represented 
twenty- two companies. In 19 14 the partners were 
Messrs. W. Lowther Kemp, O. A. Kimmel, and John 
Mitchell, the last residing in Penang. It had in that 
year five chartered accountants among its nine European 
assistants, with a branch at Penang, and represented 
some thirty-six companies at its Singapore office. Mr. 
O. A. Kimmel died in 191 7. At the end of that year 
the concern was reorganised as a private limited liability 
company, comprising its Singapore and Penang branches 
and its London office. 

Barlow and Co. — ^The firm arose out of W. R. Scott 
and Co., which was estabhshed in 1877, though really it 
began much earlier. Mr. W. R. Scott ( 1859) was a clerk 
in Shaw, Whitehead and Co., itself a successor to Graham, 
Mackenzie and Co. prior to 1834. W. R. Scott married 
a daughter of Captain George Julius Dare, a well-known 
Singaporean, who was here in the 'Forties and died in 
London in 1856. In 1 864 W. R. Scott became a partner 
of William MacDonald and Co., of which Mr. Garlics 
Allinson was a partner ; and Buckley mentions that in 
1 866 he had a fresh-water swimming bath at Abbotsford 
(Orchard Road), of which he allowed the use to sub- 
scribers ; but it was very little used. Of the firm of 
W. R. Scott and Co. the note for 1882 is the following 
constitution : W. R. Scott (London) ; T. S. Thomson, 
per pro. ; J. M. AlHnson and James Muir. In 1891 
W. R. Scott, jun., had been added as an assistant, and 
the firm is out of the 1895 Directory. But the name 
of Barlow and Co. comes in with Mr. J. M. AlHnson, 
E. Bramall, A. Booth, T. Black, and E. F. Salzmann, 
E. Bramall and Black being still here in 19 10. When 
the War started the staff included E. Bramall (Manager), 
G. D. Mackay, L. Hinnekindt, F. Blackwell, and H. I. 
Jones. The agencies of the firm are now mostly rubber, 
but it has the Compania Trasatlantica line of steamers. 


The Borneo Company, Limited. — According to 
Buckley (p. 380) the firm of W. R. Paterson and Co. 
(1842) led to McEwen and Co., and so to the Borneo Co. 
An autograph note by Mr. P. W. Auchincloss gives 
the following account of the commencement of the 
Company: *' McEwen and Co. were in 1851 the suc- 
cessors of Paterson and Co., and in 1854 started the 
Borneo Co., with their London agents to work their 
interests in Sarawak, which had become too important 
for a private firm. The wharves at Teluk Blanga 
were initiated by Mr. John Harvey in the days of 
McEwen and Co., early in 1856, and were transferred with 
their other property to the Borneo Co. In 1 854 McEwen 
and Co. had among its clerks the gentlemen with the 
familiar names of S. Gilfillan and George Armstrong. 
Three years later Mr. William Adamson was in the firm, 
and on the 31st July 1851 the Borneo Co., Ltd., was 
established in Singapore. Mr. John Harvey was 
Managing Director in the East, Mr. John Black Manager 
at Batavia, and Mr. Samuel Gilfillan at Bangkok. 
McEwen and Co. was dissolved in the previous April." 
In 1859 Mr. S. Gilfillan and Mr. H. W. Wood were 
Managers and Mr. C. E. Crane a clerk. In i860 Gil- 
fillan and Auchincloss were managing, and Mr. W. 
Adamson in 1862, among the clerks being Messrs. 
Tidman,Mulholland, andCrum. In 1 863 both Mr. Gilfillan 
and Mr. Adamson were in Singapore. In 1868 Mr. 
John Harvey was Managing Director, Mr. William 
Martin Manager, and at the Singapore Branch 
Herbert Buchanan and William Mulholland signed 
per pro. The branches established were at Man- 
chester, Calcutta, Singapore, Batavia, Hongkong, 
Shanghai, Bangkok, and Sarawak, and among the 
agencies held by the Company were H.M. Govern- 
ment of Labuan, Standard Life, North China and 
Norwich Union Assurance Companies. Mr. Mulholland 
then lived at Ardmore. Three years later we come upon 
the name of Andrew Currie as an assistant, while 
A. W. Neubronner and J. L. Neubronner were clerks. 


These three names appeared for many years in the firm — 
perhaps of all Companies the Borneo Co. has most had 
the knack of keeping its employees. Mr. Currie was a 
member of the Legislative Council before 1880, and he 
lived then at Neidpath. He remained Manager till 
1 89 1, being relieved by an equally well-known and 
respected public man, Mr. C. Sugden, who had then 
been ten years in the firm, his contemporaries being 
Mr. W. A. Cadell, Mr. St. V. B. Down ( 1 884), and Mr. J. D. 
Ross, jun. ( 1 888). The firm had developed. Among its 
agencies were the National Bank of Scotland, Nobel's 
Explosives, the Russian Volunteer Fleet — then regularly 
calling in the most princely style on the journey from 
Odessa to Vladivostock — and the National Bank of 
India. But as long ago as 1871 the biggest ship in the 
harbour, the William Cory, was consigned to the Borneo 
Co. Curiously, this is the only company in the Directory 
of 1857 to which is attached the word " Limited." In 
1900 the staff included C. Sugden, W. A. Cadell 
(Managers), St. V. B. Down {per pro.) ^ F. Hilton (from 
1890), W. Patchitt, C. J. Davies, J. Denniston, F. C. 
Wreford, E. G. Hartnell, and W. A. Darke. Mr. Sugden 
had retired before 19 10, leaving behind him the memory 
of a good business man, a keen sportsman, and a good 
friend. Under him the Company here had extended its 
business to cover nine insurance companies, three banks, 
and four lines of steamers, besides its own considerable 
trade. Mr. W. Patchitt succeeded him, and now Mr. 
John Denniston. At the outbreak of war there were 
seventeen Europeans in the firm, looking after the 
business and its sixteen agencies. 

Behr and Co. was founded before 1895, its partners 
in that year being Meyer Behr (London), and Sigismund 
Behr, who was then absent. Mr. F. H. Pearce, Mr. S. 
Rosenbaum, and Mr. L. Hoefeld have at times looked 
after the affairs of the Company. Mr. Traub was a 
partner in 191 4. 

D. Brandt and Co. goes back to the early 'Eighties, 
the partners then being D. Brandt, H. Muhlinghaus, 


and H. Brinckman. G. Fertile and van der Pals carried 
on the firm, and later R. Engler and H. Windrath. 
In 1895 R- van Pustau and the brothers G. and J. 
Schudel were in the firm. 

Brauss and Co., H. Brauss, G. Wolber, and H. 
Renter on the staff, was in full swing in 1895. The 
firm ceased to exist by 19 10. 

Joseph Bastiani was established here in 1873, and 
for many years carried on the business of pineapple 
preserving. The firm had ceased to exist in 1905, but 
Mr. V. Clumeck, who was in it in 1891, is still in Singa- 

Behn, Meyer and Co. — This great German firm was 
established in 1840, in November of that year Mr. 
August Behn and Mr. V. Lorenz Meyer commencing 
business and remaining partners till 1850, when Mr. 
F. A. Schreiber, who had joined as a clerk, became a 
partner. In that year also Mr. V. L. Meyer apparently 
went out. In 1852 Arnold Otto Meyer was a partner, 
and in 1890 that gentleman and his son, Edward Lorenz 
Meyer, presented a service of communion plate to 
St. Andrew's Cathedral as " a thank-offering of the good- 
will and prosperity experienced by the House of Behn, 
Meyer & Co. during fifty years." Mr. A. O. Meyer used 
to sing in the choir. Mr. T. A. Behn was a Municipal 
Commissioner in 1 8 5 1 . He retired from the firm in 1857, 
and gave $500 each to the Sailors' Home, Tan Tock Seng 
Hospital, Mr. Keasberry's Malay School, and the Seamen's 
Hospital, and died in London in 1 9 1 3 . In 1 868 the part- 
ners were Arnold Otto Meyer, Ferdinand von der Heyde, 
and Oscar Mooyer, the first and last being marked 
^' in Europe." The Company then had twelve agencies, 
mostly insurance companies. The firm was a member 
of the Chamber of Commerce and Exchange, and Mr. 
Mooyer was on the Committee for 1871, the firm's staff 
then mustering six Europeans, besides O. Mooyer and 
Caspar Ghnz. The latter was Vice-President of the 
Teutonia Club (established 1856), and lived at Sans- 
souci, River Valley Road. J. Lutyens, a junior, had 


risen to be Manager in 1882, and among his assistants 
were Otto Muhry and W. Edelmann, who afterwards 
became Managers, for it was a rule of the firm that no 
man remained a manager for more than five years — 
if he had not made a private fortune in that time, he was 
not enterprising enough for the firm. In 1895 the Com- 
pany had fourteen agencies, twenty-seven insurance com- 
panies, and two agencies for the classification of steam 
vessels. In that year A. Laspe became a Partner and 
F. H. Witthoeft was Manager. When he retired in 1900 
there were twenty-six Europeans in the firm, the depart- 
ments of which were : Home Shipping (Hans Becker and 
A. G. Faber) and Coast Shipping (C. Eckhardt and 
A. Diehn). Hans Becker was Manager in 19 10, but 
retired and died in October 191 3. A. G. Faber was then 
at Penang, and A. Diehn at Singapore. The fortunes of 
these two gentlemen during the War must be told by 
others. The Directory account of the constitution of 
the firm just before the outbreak of the Great War tells 
its own story. There were six Directors, and E. Lehren- 
krausz. Secretary. He will be remembered as a fine 
vocalist. In the General Office, Bank, and Produce were 
five Europeans ; in the Home Shipping (twelve com- 
panies, including three British), eight Europeans ; in the 
Transport Insurance Department, three ; in the Import 
Department, including the Potash Syndicate, three ; in 
the N.D.L. Co., four; Nautical and Technical, three; 
Hamburg-Amerika Line, one. They were agents for 
rice-mills, engineering companies, and estates. They 
had control of a large rattan and cane business. Thirty- 
six insurance companies were represented by Behn, 
Meyer and Co. with the London House, Arnold Otto 
Meyer and Co. There were eleven branches in the Far 
East alone, the Penang branch being started in 1890. 

Buyers and Riach. Buyers and Robb. — The first- 
named firm in 1 863 built a vessel called the Singapore for 
the Netherlands India mail line of Mr. Cores de Vries, 
600 tons, the largest vessel constructed in Singapore 
at that time. Buyers and Robb in 1 867 had a shop at 


Teluk Ayer (in this year Mr. Chas. Wishart was Super- 
intending Shipwright at Cloughton's Dock, estabhshed 
1859 at New Harbour), and were the owners of Bon- 
Accord Dock at Pulo Brani (built 1866). This dock 
existed till filled in by the Straits Trading Co. in the 
'Nineties. Buyers and Robb ceased to exist about 1885. 
BousTEAD AND Co. was established about 1827, and 
became Boustead, Schwabe and Co. on the ist January 
1834. The Singapore Chronicle of the 27th March 1828 
mentions : " arrived per British ship Hindustan on the 
13th March from Liverpool, E. Boustead, Esq.*' The 
fine barque Eleanor, Captain Mactaggart, 200 tons, was 
advertised on the 5th December 1833, " for freight or 
charter, apply to Edward Boustead." He advertised on 
the 2nd January next year that Mr. Gustav Christian 
Schwabe had been admitted a partner, and thefirm would 
be called Boustead, Schwabe and Co. Mr. Edward Bous- 
tead came here from China as Manager of the firm of 
Robert Wise and Co. (so Buckley writes), and Mr. Adam 
Sykes, who succeeded him, joined Boustead, Schwabe 
and Co. when Wise's was closed down in 1837 or 1838. 
In 1843 Boustead, Schwabe and Co. opened a house in 
China, and Mr. Boustead himself took charge of that, Mr. 
Schwabe (he left the firm in 1848, and died in Liverpool 
in 1896) going to Liverpool and Adam Sykes being in 
charge in Singapore. Mr. Edward Boustead was sole 
partner in 1 849, and retired to England next year, never 
returning to Singapore. Joseph Wise and William 
Wardrop Shaw became partners, the former leaving in 
1853. In 1856 Archibald Buchanan Brown was added 
to the firm, retiring in 1867. Jasper Young came out 
in 1855, became a partner in i860, and in 1888, on the 
death of the founder of the firm, became senior partner. 
He left Singapore in 1873, and died in 1908, leaving two 
sons, Arthur and J. B., both of whom afterwards became 
partners. The title of the firm in 1867 was Boustead 
and Co., the partners being Boustead, Shaw, George 
Lipscombe, and Jasper Young, assistants being J. Stow 
Young (left in 1873), Charles Frohch, Claude J. Morris, 


and F. W. Mackie. The firm evidently showed its 
independence, for in 1864 it was not a member of the 
Chamber of Commerce, though it had been in 1856, and 
had taken part in the foundation of the institution, and 
of course joined forces with the rest of the mercantile 
community. Boustead's was against the levying of 
duties in 1836, in common with nearly every firm in the 
Colony, and Mr. Edward Boustead was one of the Commit- 
tee appointed to draw up the petition. They repeated 
the protest in 1857. The firm was interested in the land 
settlement and in cultivation. It also took a leading 
part in the establishment of steamer communication 
with Madras in 1858. In 1842 Mr. Adam Sykes was an 
original subscriber for a theatre. Mr. M. F. Davidson 
left A. L. Johnston's in 1863 to join Boustead 's, and later 
Farleigh Armstrong left Armstrong and Co., the latter 
becoming a partner in 1874, at the same time as 
Mr. Thomas Cuthbertson. The firm prospered after the 
Transfer. In 1882 the partners included Thomas 
Cuthbertson (still alive in London) and John R. Cuthbert- 
son, both very musical, strong supporters of the kirk, 
and John taking a keen interest in racing. In that year, 
also, John Finlayson, H. W. Gunn, and A. M. Aitken were 
in Penang, and Robert Craig, W. Greig, and W. P. Wad- 
dell assistants. The Cuthbertsons and John Finlayson 
carried on in Singapore well into the 'Nineties. W. A. 
Greig was per pro. in 1886, D. T. Boyd and G. Macbain 
assistants in 1 888, while John Dill Ross, jun., had a spell 
in the firm, as he tells, slightly disguising the names, in his 
book Sixty Years' Travel and Adventure in the Far East. 
The steady expansion of the firm is shown by the Direc- 
tories of thirty years ago ; it held five insurance companies, 
the Glen and the Gulf Lines, Netherlands Indies Steam 
Navigation Co., Queensland Royal Mail, and the Shire 
Line, and three years later the British India, the Canadian 
Pacific, the Compagnie Nationale, the West Australian, 
and the Indo-China Line had been added, with two 
banks. In 1895 in the service of the firm were F. E. 
Jago, F. D. Mactaggart, W. Mackay, W. H. Macgregor, 


E. D. Hewan, V. Gibbons, J. B. Young, F. H. Darke, 
D. Ritchie, F. Y. Blair, and Arthur Darke. The partners 
of the firm in the last twenty-eight years have been : 

1 89 1. Jasper Young (died 1908), J. Henderson 
(retired 1901, since dead), T. Cuthbertson (retired 
191 1 ), J. R. Cuthbertson (1898, since dead), 
J. Finlayson (retired 1896, died 1908). 

1893. R- Craig. 

1898. W. P. Waddell, R. Yeats (i9i7)> W. A. 
Greig(i9o8), F. E. Jago (1904). 

1 90 1 . Arthur Young. 

1903. J. B. Young. 

1909. — E. D. Hewan, D. T. Boyd (i9i4)» and G. 
Macbain (1914). 

191 5. — R. J. Addie. 

191 7. — ^V. Gibbons. 

The present partners are A. Young, J. B. Young, 
W. P. Waddell, H. E. Snagge, E. D. Hewan (London) ; 
R. J. Addie, V. Gibbons, F. Y. Blair (Singapore) ; J. C. 
Benson (Penang). 

Brinkmann and Co. were established here in 1876, 
Mr. J. G. Brinkmann, late of Linton, Cambridge, opening 
the firm on behalf of his co-partners, Mr. Ignazius 
Hiltermann and Mr. Theodore Hiltermann, who were 
trading in Manchester as Hiltermann Brothers. Mr. 
J. G. Brinkmann died at Linton on the 19th December 
191 7. The firm of Hiltermann Bros., Manchester, was 
opened in 1 8 54, their branch office in Bradford, Yorkshire, 
being opened at a later date. The present partners are 
Messrs. Charles T. and Ernest T. Hiltermann, of Man- 
chester and London, sons of the late Mr. Theodore 
Hiltermann. The London firm is Brinkmann and Co., 
of 7 Mincing Lane, E.C. 3. Their present Manager in 
Singapore is Mr. P. Cunhffe, who came out in 1897 J 
Mr. E. A. Brown joined in 1901, leaving in 191 8. Mr. 
S. Dunn joined the firm in 1904. 

Bell's Asbestos, Ltd., opened their office in Singa- 
pore in 1900, the first representative being Mr. F. A. 


Caldbeck, Macgregor and Co. (London 1864) has 
been in Singapore since 1905. Mr. K. A. Stevens was 
long the Manager of the firm. 

Cameron, John, and Cameron, Dunlop & Co. — John 
Cameron was a well-known and popular resident in 
Singapore for thirty years. He was a master mariner, 
trading with Australia, and, after being so unfortunate 
as to lose two vessels, he settled in Singapore in 1861, 
with an office in Raffles Place. He became Editor of the 
Straits Times, which he and some of his friends bought. 
Afterwards, with Captain E. M. Smith, of the Tanjong 
Pagar Dock Co., he became Proprietor. He died at 
Monk's Hill, in Bukit Timah Road, in 1881, and Mrs. 
Cameron carried on the firm (which Mr. Charles Dunlop 
had joined) till 1887. One of Mrs. Cameron's daughters 
married Mr. James MacRitchie, Municipal Engineer ; 
another, Mr. Maclennan, of the Hongkong Bank, and a 
third, Mr. C. D. Harvey, of the Borneo Co. 

Commercial Union Assurance Company, Limited. — 
For many years prior to 1 894 the Company was repre- 
sented in Singapore solely by the firm of Gilfillan, Wood 
and Co. (now Adamson, Gilfillan and Co., Ltd.), and in 
that year it purchased the business of the Straits Fire 
Insurance Co., Ltd., and established a branch (known as 
the Eastern Branch) in the Straits Fire Building, Finlay- 
son Green, under the management of Mr. S. F. Clark, 
who had been in the service of that Company. Mr. Clark 
died in Singapore in 1899, when his assistant, Mr. E. J. 
Robertson, was given charge, and the branch office was 
removed to No. 6 Battery Road, next but one to the 
building now occupied by Messrs. Guthrie and Co., Ltd. 
Mr. Robertson remained in charge until the end of 1902, 
when he resigned, and Mr. C. R. S. Walker was transferred 
to Singapore from the Company's Madras branch. In 
1904 the Company purchased the building at the corner 
of Robinson Road and Telegraph Street, which it now 
occupies. Mr. Walker suffered in health ; he was trans- 
ferred in 1904 to the Company's branch in South Africa, 
and the control of the Singapore office was given to 


Mr. W. A. Sims, in whose hands it has since remained. 
Mr. Sims was formerly at the head office of the Company 
for some years, and had been since 1900 an assistant at 
the Hongkong branch. 

Crane Bros. — About the year 1826 Mr. T. O. Crane, 
father of Mr. H. A. and Mr. C. E. Crane, and the founder 
of the family, came to Singapore, having left England 
with the intention of going to India, but being wrecked 
off the coast of Spain swam to shore, where, after sub- 
sisting for a month on rats, shell-fish, and shoe leather, he 
was rescued by a vessel bound for Singapore. From the 
first year of his arrival he founded the firm of Crane Bros., 
auctioneers and land agents, Mr. W. Crane (his partner 
and brother) being at that time in Austraha. Mr. Crane 
was successful at a time when Raffles Square was almost 
a swamp and there was no Esplanade orTanjong Pagar, 
and he died in 1867. The goodwill of the firm was in 
1855 handed over to his two eldest sons — he had fourteen 
children in all, and thirteen of them were alive in 1902. 
The third son, Mr. C. E. Crane, worked in the firm of 
Hooglandt & Co., and the Borneo Co., and as Manager of 
the Grove Estate. He retained his interest in Crane 
Bros, till 1899, but also started the Tampenis Clearwater 
Dairy Farm in 1890, which he carried on successfully for 
five or six years, and then converted it into a limited 
liability company. Mr. C. E. Crane retired to England 
in 1 90 1. He had seven children, one of them, Mr. C. S. 
Crane, having been Secretary of the Straits Trading Co. 
His brother, Mr. Arthur Crane, was back in vSingapore 
in 191 7. Henry A. Crane carried on the business with 
his sons until his death. 

Derrick and Co. dates back as a firm of accountants, 
secretaries, and auditors to 1887, but Mr. G. A. Derrick 
had been in Singapore since the late 'Seventies. In 1900 
Mr. F. G. Penny was an assistant, and in 1905 Mr. H. R. 
Llewellyn was a partner in the firm, which then had 
charge of the interests of nine companies and two 
agencies. In 19 10 the assistants were W. P. Plummer, 
C. S. Brison, W. E. Rayner, and C. L. Duff (who left in 


191 2). Mr. Plummer became a partner in 191 3, and 
Messrs. D. J. Ward, G. S. Farebrother, and S. H. Moss 
had joined. The firm then held the interests of nineteen 
companies. Mr. Derrick retired from the firm in 191 5 
and Mr. Llewellyn in 191 8. The present partners are 
W. P. Plummer, D. J. Ward, and W. E. Rayner. 

C. DupiRE AND Co. was established before 1900, the 
partners being Jules and Louis Dupire. Later the 
title of the firm was changed to Dupire Bros., with 
Mr. Paul and Mr. Louis as partners. 

Edgar and Co. was established in 1862, and in 1882 
the senior partners were S. Edgar and John S. Sarkies. 
The firm is now Edgar Bros., all five partners having the 
family name. 

Fraser and Neave, Ltd., goes back in its inception 
to the missionary agencies of the Rev. B. P. Keasberry. 
That great pioneer came to Singapore in 1837, having 
been bornin 1 8 1 1 at Hyderabad, his father being Resident 
of Tegal, Java, during the British occupation. The year 
he came to Singapore he had married an American lady, 
Miss Charlotte Parker, of Boston, and Mr. and Mrs. 
Keasberry came to Singapore as missionaries to the 
Malays under the American Board of Commissioners for 
Foreign Missions. In 1839 Mr. Keasberry joined the 
LondonMissionary Society, and taught printing and other 
things in a small school at Rochore. In 1847 he became 
a self-supporting missionary, and the printing establish- 
ment was one of the means by which he supported his 
work. Mrs. Keasberry died in 1 875, and John Fraser and 
David Chalmers Neave bought the printing works, then 
in Battery Road. It was still known as the Mission 
Press (established 1843), and then, as now, the Singapore 
and Straits Directory was an important publication 
of the firm. In 1883 the Singapore and Straits Aerated 
Water Co. was formed by Messrs. Fraser and Neave. 
The Managers of the two departments in 1 886 were T. G. 
Scott and A. Morrison, who each remained with the Com- 
pany for nearly thirty years. Fraser and Neave, Ltd., 
was formed in 1898, and has gone on increasing its 


business and extending its branches to Penang, Kuala 
Lumpur, Bangkok, Ipoh, and Malacca, with local direc- 
tors at Penang and Bangkok. The printing works and 
aerated water manufactory were removed to Tanjong 
Pagar in 1903. 

Fraser and Gumming was the branch of Mr. John 
Eraser's business that constructed materially. Mr. J. B. 
Gumming was associated with Mr. Fraser for this purpose. 
They leased the Johore Steam Sawmills from Dato 
Meldrum ; they established brickworks at Balestier, and 
they built a number of fine residential houses in the 
neighbourhood of Dalvey Road — ^White House, Gree 
Hall, and others. After Mr. J. B. Gumming's death, 
while bathing at a seaside residence, Mr. H. P. Bagley 
looked after the interests of the firm as a partner. 

Greer, H. and W., Ltd., first appear in the Directory 
in 1 9 10. Mr. Thomas Sibary was in charge then, and 
still is at the date of writing. The firm is closely asso- 
ciated with cycles, rubber, and the Dunlop Rubber Go. 
(Far East). 

Guthrie and Go. was founded in 1821 by Alexander 
Guthrie (Singapore) and James Guthrie (London). In 
1823 Harrington and Guthrie was commenced, Harring- 
ton being the seafaring man, but the partnership lasted 
only eight months. In February 1824 Guthrie and 
Glark was formed, and Mr. Glark continued with the firm 
till 1833. Buckley tells us that his house was on the 
present site of the Hotel de I'Europe. Alexander 
Guthrie remained here till 1847, and died in London in 
1865. He was a man who took a high position for his 
character and abilities. The name and the fame of the 
firm were carried on by Mr. James Guthrie, a nephew, 
who arrived in January 1837 and retired in 1876, dying 
at Tunbridge Wells in 1900, in his eighty-seventh year. 
He was " Sheriff of the Incorporated Settlement " in 
1 85 1 . Both of them signed the famous letter concerning 
the Transfer (Buckley, p. 775). Mr. Thomas Scott arrived 
in Singapore on the 7th July 1851, was a partner in the 
firm for forty-five years, and died in Scotland on the 28th 


June 1 902. He was one of the " fathers " of Tanjong Pagar, 
and one of the first members of the Legislative Council, on 
its institution in 1867. Mr. Thomas Scott married the 
elder daughter of Major McNair, and his son is Mr. R. F. 
McNair Scott. 

The names of these three great men of the earlier 
half-century of the firm appear constantly as on all 
public bodies and communities. A Thomas Scott 
seconded the resolution (the 8th February 1837) which 
led to the formation of the Chamber of Commerce (but 
he was not Guthrie's Thomas), and Alexander Guthrie 
was on the first Committee of the Chamber. In the 
'Forties J.J. Greenshields was in the firm, and in Decem- 
ber 1849 " bore the oil " used in the Masonic ceremony 
for the laying of the foundation-stone of the Horsburgh 
Light. In 1858 he drew up a petition against the 
importations of more convicts, and was a general 
objector at the Transfer. A notable point about Guthrie's 
in the early days was the long period of partnership and 
service in the Straits : Alexander and James Guthrie, 
James Greenshields (in Singapore in 1847 ^^d still here 
in i860), James Watson, Thomas Scott, John Anderson 
(1876 to date). Mr. Louis R. Glass and Mr. Alexander 
Johnston joined the firm in the 'Seventies, and the list 
of agencies increased. In 1876 Mr. Guthrie gave $500 
to found a Guthrie scholarship at Tanjong Pagar Malay 
School, and in 1882 Mr. Thomas Scott was Deputy 
Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, and Mr. Louis 
Glass was in London, Mr. John Anderson and Mr. Alex. 
Johnston signing the firm per procuration, both of these 
becoming partners in 1886, among the assistants being 
A. H. Raeburn, A. J. Ross, E. Cameron, and C. J. Davies. 
The firm at that time represented only three planting 
companies, Trafalgar, Pakan Bahroe, and London 
Sumatra ; but this was long before the era of rubber 
companies. Mr. (now Sir) John Anderson directed the 
firm after the death of Mr. Thomas Scott, and remained 
in Singapore till 191 2. In 1900 Mr. A. Hood Begg and 
Mr. A. E. Baddeley had joined the firm, which had a 


II. 196] 


West Australia branch (Guthrie and Co.) and a London 
branch (Scott and Co.). Mr. W. W. Macmillan was in 
the firm for a time, about 1905, and Mr. R. F. McNair 
Scott, Mr. Thomas Scott's son, came out to Singapore 
for a short time. The present Managers, A. E. Baddeley 
and J. Robertson, signed per pro. in 19 10, since when the 
Scott interests have withdrawn from the firm. Guthrie 
and Co. have grown tremendously in the last thirty years. 
In 1888 their agencies included the Eastern and Austra- 
lian Steamship Co., the Castle Line, Trafalgar and Pakan 
Bahroe Estates, London and Westminster Bank, 
Drummonds Bankers, and Coutts and Co. At the out- 
break of war the firm had twenty-four Government, 
banking, insurance, and shipping agencies, and over 
sixty other agencies. The Europeans in their employ 
in Singapore were thirty-seven in number. 

Geok Teat and Co. have been in business since 1868, 
according to one Directory. But that of 1 868 mentions 
Locke Hong Ghee and Co. (late Geok Teat and Co.) as 
having been established in 1863. Tay Geok Teat ruled 
for many years, and died quite recently. 

Hartwig and Co. goes back to 1864, and in the early 
'Eighties the partners were F. von Hartwig and H. C. 
Verloop. O. Muhlenbein came in in 1900. 

The Hotel de l'Europe (now the Europe Hotel) 
was estabhshed in 1857, on the site it now occupies, 
and in that year had the description " Hotel d 'Europe ; 
do. de Famille." J. Castelyns seems to have been the 
original proprietor, but by the 'Seventies he had been 
succeeded by A. Becker, whose name persists into the 
'Nineties. The whole range of buildings as far as 
Coleman Street was occupied as " bachelors' " quarters, 
the blocks being for families. Few of the old-world 
residents of Singapore have not occupied them for a 
longer or shorter time. W. G. St. Clair was there for 
perhaps over a score of years, his triangle being the 
Hotel, the Club, and the Office. Mr. John Eraser tried 
unsuccessfully in the 'Nineties to form a company to 
build a new hotel on the same site. By 19 10 Mr. N. N. 


Adis was in control of the finances, and the new building 
passed into the hands of a company. 

Hammer and Co. — Mr. W. Hammer and Mr. Hansen, 
Danish gentlemen, living in Singapore, considered that 
the supplying of water to the shipping of the port 
should prove a profitable business, and, with that 
object, acquired a site on Blakan Mati and constructed 
a reservoir thereon. In 1 863 they formed a partnership, 
Hammer and Co., starting business with two wooden 
steam-driven water-boats and a sailing boat, all of 
thirty tons capacity. The two former were fitted with 
steam pumps, the latter with a hand one. The offices 
were situated at the mouth of the river. The Tanjong 
Pagar Dock Co., Ltd., had no water-mains on the 
wharves, and therefore Messrs. Hammer and Co. supplied 
all the water required. 

In 1872, whilst superintending the supply of water 
from the sailing boat, Mr. Hammer fell into the hold, 
breaking both legs, from the effects of which he died. 
Mr. Tutein then j oined the Company as Manager. About 
this time Mr. E. Almeida also entered the water business, 
leasing a small reservoir at Teulk Blanga from the 
Sultan of Johore. The two concerns arranged to retain 
their respective customers, and divide any outside 
orders that should be obtained. In 1876 the two 
amalgamated. The annual supply of water at this 
time amounted to 20,000 tons. In 1880 the Tanjong 
Pagar Dock Co., Ltd., laid their water-mains, and Mr. 
Almeida, becoming nervous, sold his shares to Messrs. 
Hartwig and Verloop, who were fully justified in their 
optimism, and so successful that in 1888 the Company 
constructed its first steel water-boat. In 1884 Mr. 
Gaggino formed an opposition company, having a 
reservoir at Pulo Bukom, but, after three years, came 
into a working agreement with Messrs. Hammer and Co. 
In 1 89 1 Hammer and Co. built a pier near Finlayson 
Green, the boats being filled from municipal pipes. 
In 1894 one of Mr. Gaggino 's water-boats was wrecked, 
and was replaced by one built at Tanjong Rhu. Cap- 


tain D. J. Reek became Manager of the Company in 

1900, and the supply of water by this time had increased 
to 90,000 tons per annum. In 1901 the Company's 
reservoirs were enlarged and improved. In 1902 
Singapore experienced a severe drought, the Company's 
reservoirs ran low, and the Municipality were unable to 
give more than a two-hour service per day. Arrange- 
ments were, however, made to receive water from ships 
coming from Hongkong, and in this way shipping was 
supplied, the loss being borne by the Company. In 
order to avoid further shortage, a new reservoir was 
constructed at Pasir Panjang, the Municipality also 
enlarging the Impounding Reservoir. In 1909 the 
Government built a pier for the Company near the 
mouth of the Singapore River on Fullerton Road, re- 
placing that situated at Finlayson Green, the removal 
becoming necessary owing to the alterations for the 
Teluk Ayer Reclamation. In 19 10 Mr. Verloop retired, 
and the Company became a limited one. 

The first Directors were Captain D. J. Reek, Messrs. 
E. F. H. Edlin, and H. R. Llewellyn. In 191 3 Mr. 
Gaggino sold his fleet to the Company in return for 

Howarth,Erskine andCo.,Ltd. — ^Therewasan Hon. 
J.J. Erskine, member of the Council at Penang in 1824, 
but Samuel Erskine, who was associated with H. Howarth 
in establishing this well-known engineering firm, came 
to Singapore in the late 'Seventies.^ In 1882 the chief 
members besides Mr. Erskine were R. Anderson and 
J. J. Macbean, the latter being Managing Director after- 
wards (1901). Mr. A. Snodgrass was in the firm in 
1888, with Mr. A. E. Benzie. Later came Mr. G. E. V. 
Thomas as Electrical Engineer, and Mr. F. Pollock, who 
died in December 191 8. Mr. Benzie was Secretary in 

1 90 1, and Mr. Lemberger joined the Company in 1904, 
thirty-one Europeans being then employed. The Com- 
pany was reconstructed in 1905, when the General 

1 Howarth, Lyon and Erskine carried on business for some time till, 
in 1878, J. M. Lyon left and started in business for himself. 

II — 14 


Manager was Donald MacDonald. The amalgamation 
with Riley, Hargreaves and Co. took place in 191 2, and 
the two concerns were merged into the United Engineers 

HuTTENBACH Bros. AND Co. was formed by the two 
brothers Ludwig and August in 1883 — Huttenbach, 
Liebert and Co. in Penang. Mr. August Huttenbach, 
who fought in the Franco-German War of 1870, became 
a naturalised British subject, and was for many years 
a member of the Legislative Council. Of great force of 
character, Mr. Huttenbach was a sturdy debater, with 
strong views on currency, trade, and the rights of Penang. 
He died in London in November 191 8. His son is a 
major in the British Army. Mr. J. Heim was for long 
Manager of the firm in Singapore, and in 1886 Emil 
Huttenbach was also in Penang. 

Hamilton, Gray and Co. commenced business in 1 832, 
and lasted till 1886. Among its partners whose names 
appear in the old records were Walter and William 
Hamilton, G. G. Nichol, Reginald Padday (1857), and 
C. H. H. Wilsone (1863). The latter was on the original 
Committee of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Co. In 1882 he 
was still a member of the firm, and A. W. Stiven was an 
assistant. He afterwards joined the firm of Stiven & Co. 

HooGLANDT & Co. was Started in 1859 or i860 by Jan 
Daniel Hooglandt and Johann Rudolf Riedtmann. It 
rapidly rose as an agency for many Dutch firms. The 
senior partner had retired to Amsterdam in 1882, and 
" rulers of the firm " since then have been W. H. 
Diethelm (who afterwards started in business for him- 
self in Singapore), W. Stiefel, Hoynck van Papendricht, 
W. Naef, G. A. Kesting, J. van Lohuizen, and W. E. van 
Rijnbeck. The firm had charge for a time of the 
interests of the Netherlands oil industry and the works 
at Puloe Samboe. 

Fischer, Huber and Co. lasted for about five years, 
1900-5. Mr. A. Cadonau was the leading spirit. 

HoGAN AND Co., Ltd., was also a short-lived com- 
pany, from 1905 to 1 9 10. 

ai.exande;r i^aurie Johnston. 

n. 200] 


A. L. Johnston & Co. (1819-92). — The founder of the 
firm came to Singapore in 1819, and the portrait of Mr. 
Alexander Lawrie Johnston appears in Buckley's Anec- 
dotal History J in which book the notable works of the 
chief partners of the firm, A. L. Johnston, C. R. Read, 
W. H. Read, M. F. Davidson, and R. B. Read, are told 
in detail. Mr. W. H. Read was born in 1819, and died, 
in his ninetieth year, in 1908. Barclay Read was his 
cousin, and died at Yokohama, on the 27th October, 
1884, aged 56. The present notice is to carry on the 
history of the firm, so well told by Buckley, since 1867, 
where the subsequent careers of some of the partners 
are noted. So long ago as 1863 M. F. Davidson left the 
firm and joined Boustead's. W. H. Read and A. L. 
Johnston were still carrying on the firm in 1880, and 
in 1 88 1 Mr. W. E. Hooper came in, and in 1888 Mr. 
R. J. Gunn and H. Brett, the latter leaving in 1 891 . The 
premises were at the corner of Collyer Quay, where the 
Hongkong Bank now stands. The agencies of the firm 
at this period included the Russian State Bank, Baring 
Bros., British North Borneo Co., Comptoir d'Escompte 
de Paris, Banque de ITndo-Chine, Franco-Egyptienne 
Bank, Sadong Coal Mines, and the Sarawak Govern- 
ment. Read Bridge commemorates the name of Mr. 
W. H. Read, for so long Consul for the Netherlands and 
District Grand Master of the Eastern Archipelago. 

Katz Brothers emerged in 1865 from the firm of 
Hieber, Katz and Co. (1864), the first partners being 
Mr. H. Katz and his brother ; the latter left the East in 
1877, when Mr. August Huttenbach joined Mr. H. Katz. 
Other partners were Mr. Max Behr, who died in 1886, 
and Mr. Meyer Behr, who withdrew in 1888. In 1897 
Katz Brothers became a limited liability company, with 
a capital of $1,000,000, the present Resident Directors 
of which are Messrs. G. Gansloser, J. A. Webster, and 
G. A. Chaney. The fine building on the west side of 
the Square, surmounted by a figure of Mercury, was 
built for the firm, and completed in 191 2. 

The Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij was 


founded in 1890 as a result of combined action of the 
" Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland " and " Rotter- 
damsche Lloyd," to form a feeding line for the home 
steamers. The Company started business with thirteen 
steamers, ranging in size from 600 to 1,300 tons. With 
these thirteen vessels, thirteen services were opened 
throughout the Dutch East Indian Archipelago, with 
about eighty ports of call. The Company's fleet consists 
now of ninety-two vessels, with a total gross tonnage of 
1 56,1 83 tons, running on fifty different services with about 
300 ports of call. The well-known fast steamers Melchior 
Treub and Rumphius maintain a regular weekly service 
with Java and Sumatra, and ten services have Singapore 
as starting-point tq the Dutch East Indies, with eighty- 
four ports of call. A line from Penang and Singapore to 
China ports was opened early in 191 6. The agency in 
Singapore was opened in the same year as the foundation 
of the Company ( 1 890), under the management of Messrs. 
" De Scheeps Agentuur," late J. Daendels. In 1914 the 
K.P.M. opened its own office at 2-3 CoUyer Quay. The 
regular steamer service to Singapore has developed 
enormously, with much good fortune and some bad, for 
the Reyniersz was destroyed by fire in Singapore on the 
23rd January 1907, while two years later the Djambi 
was sunk at Tanjong Pagar as a result of collision with 
the Messageries Maritimes steamer Polynesien. 

Kelly and Walsh, Ltd., opened their Singapore 
branch in 1889 under Mr. George Brinkworth, who now 
represents the Company in London. The first store was 
in Battery Road. The printing works in Orchard Road 
were built in 1902, and Mr. J. E. Tyler, now Government 
Printer, was in charge of that department in 1905, Mr. 
R. W. Chater in 19 10, when Mr. W. J. Mayson was in 
charge of the firm's business here. A good many Eastern 
books have been pubhshed and printed by Kelly and 
Walsh, probably the most difficult to produce being 
Wilkinson's large Malay Dictionary. 

John Little and Co., Ltd. — ^There were four Littles 
originally. Dr. Robert, John Martin, Matthew, and 


Robert Little, all closely connected with Singapore. 
In 1845 Dr. Robert Little and Dr. Oxley called atten- 
tion to the possibilities of gutta-percha. Dr. Little 
lived for thirty-five years at Bonnygrass, on Institution 
Hill, on land original^ bought by M. J. Martin and 
Adam Sykes for a small yearly sum. It was part of 
the land granted to Raffles Institution, but the grant 
for twenty-eight acres was sold in 1 844. The connection 
of the firm with Singapore goes back farther than this, 
for Alexander Martin came here with Raffles, and died 
at his bungalow in Beach Road in 1831, being succeeded 
by his brother, M. J. Martin, who retired in 1836. Dr. 
Robert Little succeeded his uncle, this Martin, and lived 
till 1888, when he died at Blackheath. He arrived on 
the I ith August 1840, and lived (1842) at the Dispensary 
in the Square. In 1846 he was one of the founders of 
the Presbyterian Church ; two years later was sworn in 
as Coroner; in 1855 proposed a sanatorium on Gunong 
Pulai in Johore, and explored the place as one of a party 
of six. He was one of the original subscribers for a 
theatre, and was one of the founders of the Library in 
1844, a steward at St. Andrew's Ball in 1845, ^t the 
New Public Hall, the Assembly Rooms, foot of Fort 
Canning. On the 27th November 1846 a meeting was 
held at Little, Cursetjee and Co.'s godown to form the 
Presbyterian Church. Dr. Little seconded the motion 
for the London Missionary Society to select a clergyman, 
and one from any of the Evangelistical denominations 
of Scotch Presbyterians would be cordially received 
without reference to his particular views in regard to 
Church government. Dr. Little was in the Chinese 
riots of 1854, and helped to rout a party of " rebels " at 
Gaylang ; in the same year he was on the Committee 
of the new Town Hall and of the Dalhousie Obelisk, 
now on the patch of green near Anderson's Bridge, its 
third site. He was a strong advocate of a new iron 
bridge at Kallang, which would have been very con- 
venient for his plantation at Siglap. The bridge, how- 
ever, became Elgin Bridge, widened and strengthened 


when the steam tramways were introduced in the 
'Eighties. He was also one of the founders of Tanjong 
Pagar in 1866. He wrote many papers in Logan's 
Journal, deahng with meteorology ; he was at the 
famous meeting on the Transfer, when Harry St. George 
Ord, Colonel in the Army, etc., " stalked in without 
removing his hat, and sat down on a chair on the dais 
without taking notice of anybody " ; and was one of 
the first members of the Legislative Council in 1867. 
He was the senior member of Little and Robertson, who 
established a dispensary under Robert Jamie's manage- 

John Martin Little was a relative of F. S. Martin, a 
store-keeper and auctioneer in 1842, which business in 
1 845 was made over to him and Mr. Cursetjee Fromerzee. 
Cursetjee Fromerzee was the son of Fromurzee Sorabjee,- 
a Parsee merchant, who established his firm in 1 840 and 
died in 1849. In 1853 the partnership, John Martin 
Little and Cursetjee, was dissolved, and the former was 
joined by Matthew Little, and thus came into being the 
firm of John Little and Co., in premises on the same site 
as the present store. The limited company was fgrmed 
in 1900. J. M. Little was one of the signatories to the 
petition praying for the Transfer in 1867 ; he died at 
Blackheath in 1894. Matthew Little left in 1877, ^^^ 
went to live at Hampstead. 

In 1882 the members and assistants included A. M. 
Martin, C. J. F. Banister, S. R. Carr, W. Hutton, E. 
Scott Russell — the last three had already been here for 
some years, as had D. Maw. Banister dropped out before 
1886, and S. R. Carr was a partner. W. Hutton became 
a partner before 1889, and went home in 1903. Scott 
Russell remained till after 1905. Mr. F. C. Wreford was 
in the firm in 1895 J in 1889 R. Scoular and H. G. Diss, 
with Alex. Martin and W. Martin, C. W. Banks and 
W. G. Blunn. In 1905 the firm employed twenty-five 
Europeans. Five years later S. R. Carr, W. Hutton, and 
Scott Russell were inthe London office, those in Singapore 
being R. Little, C. W. Banks, R. Scoular,and W. G. Blunn. 


At the outbreak of war the Directorate in Singapore was 
R. Scoular (managing), C. W. Banks and W. G. Blunn 
(on leave), E. N. Benjafield; and J. T. Hume was the 
Secretary. The later members and the employees of the 
firm have played no less a part in the life of Singapore 
than the earlier. S. R. Carr was a keen racing man, and 
as " Pendek " was a most useful member of the Sporting 
Club. Hutton and Scott Russell were busy rowing men, 
and kept that club going for years. R. Scoular was one 
of ■ the great exponents of Association football, D. Maw 
one of the most successful shikaris and rifle-shots, while 
junior members have more than held their own in lawn 
tennis and other forms of sport. The fine new godown 
was opened on the 19th September 19 10. 

J. M. Lyon and Co. — George Lyon came to Singapore 
in i860, and appears in the 1868 Directory as G. Lyon, 
Sandy Point, shipbuilder. When he died, in July 1885, 
it was chronicled that with his brother he built the big 
iron bridge at Kallang and the Elgin Bridge, which he 
pushed bodily across the river, a novel feat in those days. 
He began the first work of the Dock Co. at Tanjong 
Pagar in 1 864, and at the Borneo Wharf. The brother 
mentioned we believe to be J. M. Lyon, who was 
estabhshed here in 1895, where he was known as " the 
Laird." James Murchie was one of his assistants, and 
his sons Albert and Edward were with him, a daughter 
marrying A. Mackay, so long in charge of the Dispensary. 
Edward Lyon established himself as a cycle manufacturer 
in Battery Road, the forerunner of the Straits Cycle 
Co., which made the Laju bicycle. 

Martin, Dyce and Co. was one of the old-established 
firms of Singapore, being formed in 1 842, out of the firm of 
Paterson and Co., by George Martin, Charles Carnie, and 
Alexander Dyce, with houses at Singapore, Batavia, and 
Manila. In 1866, in Singapore David Roger was in 
charge — there is a memorial window to him in St. 
Andrew's Cathedral, died the i ith October 1867, aged 37. 
In 1880 the Managers were G. A. MacLaverty and J. Y. 
Kennedy, who migrated to Penang, and there founded 


the firm of Kennedy and Co. G. A. Derrick and John 
Wilson were assistants in 1881, the Company being then 
the Glen agents. The firm ceased in 1885. 

W. Mansfield and Co. — Walter Mansfield came to 
Singapore in 1 861 , and was in business as a ship chandler 
(1864) in Collyer Quay. In 1868 the members of the 
firm were Richard Joseph Wright and Walter Mansfield. 
In 1872 the partners in the firm were Walter Mansfield 
and George J. Mansfield. Previous to this date the 
Company had been appointed agents for The Ocean 
Steam Ship Co., Ltd. Mr. Walter Mansfield died in 1 873 
in London, and Mr. T. C. Bogaardt subsequently joined 
Mr. G. J. Mansfield, and the firm opened a branch in 
Penang, under the style of Mansfield, Bogaardt and Co., 
and later on in Sandakan under the same name. Mr. 
G. J. Mansfield retired in 1886. Later Mr. A. E. Turner 
became a partner with Mr. T. C. Bogaardt, and took 
charge of the Penang ofiice, Mr. A. P. Adams and Mr. 
J. E. Romenij being assistants in Singapore. In 1891 
Mr. A. E. Turner went to Sandakan. In 1894 Mr. T. C. 
Bogaardt retired from the firm, and the remaining part- 
ners were then Mr. A. P. Adams, Mr. J. E. Romenij, and 
Mr. J. G. Berkhuysen (the latter stationed at Sandakan), 
Mr. Edward Anderson being an assistant. Mr. Anderson 
was made a partner in 1899. Amongst the assistants 
at this time were Mr. W. G. Hennings, Mr. E. R. Weare, 
Mr. P. L. WiUiams, and Mr. A. Jackson. In 1902 Mr. 
A. P. Adams retired, the Company being formed into a 
limited liability company in 1903, with headquarters in 
Liverpool, the first Managers being Mr. J. E. Romenij, 
Mr. E. Anderson, and Mr. J. G. Berkhuysen. In 1904 
W. Mansfield and Co., Ltd., were appointed agents for the 
China Mutual Steam Navigation Co., Ltd., which had been 
acquired by Messrs. Alfred Holt and Co. In 1907 Mr. 
Romenij retired from the firm, and Mr. W. G. Hennings 
became a manager. In 191 3 Mr. J. G. Berkhuysen 
retired, and Mr. P. L. Williams was appointed a manager 
in 191 5. In addition to acting as agents for the Ocean 
Steam Ship Co., Ltd., and the China Mutual Steam 


Navigation Co., Ltd., Mansfield and Co. also act as 
agents for the China Navigation Co., Ltd. 

Captain F. M. Darke was connected with the firm as 
pilot for the steamers of the Ocean Steam Ship Co., Ltd., 
for a period of over thirty years, and retired in 1908. 

Maclaine, Eraser and Co. — Mr. E. Maclaine is in 
the list of merchants resident in Singapore given in the 
report of the Resident in 1824. Mr. D. A. Eraser is 
among the original subscribers to Rafiles Institution, 
but Mr. James Eraser was the second partner, and in 1 840 
he bought and occupied a house in Kampong Glam. The 
firm was opened in 1827, James Eraser in London, Lewis 
Eraser and Gilbert Angus Bain (left in 1 8 54) in Singapore. 
L P. Cummingand J. B. Cumming (whose son, also James 
Bannerman Cumming, was a partner of Eraser and 
Cumming) were notable members of Maclaine, Eraser 
and Co., to which Mr. Charles Dunlop came out in 1857, 
becoming a partner in 1864. Mr. Lewis J. Eraser was 
a partner in 1880, and the firm dissolved soon after, 
having brought to Singapore many notable public men., 

Mitsui Bussan Kaisha, Ltd. — ^The Singapore branch 
of this great Japanese firm came to Singapore and com- 
menced business on the 7th July 1891, and in 1900 the 
Manager was Mr. G. Kawamura. By 1905 the firm had 
so extended that there were nine assistants (grown five 
years later to twelve), under Mr. T. Hayashi. The four 
coal-mines represented by the firm at its inception had 
increased to fifteen, with other important agencies, and 
at the outbreak of war Mr. Ohmora, the Manager, had 
fourteen assistants. 

Meyer Bros, established itself in Singapore in 1873, 
the three brothers ten years later being Reuben and 
Elias (Calcutta) and Manasseh Meyer. The last named 
has been continuously here, though EHas was here from 
1889 to 1 89 1. Mr. R. Sassoon was with the firm for 
many years. In 1900 Mr. J. A. Meyer was an assistant. 

James Motion and Co. — Mr. James Motion came out 
to W. Huxtable, but commenced business for himself 
before 1883, ^^^ in that year Mr. W. Lawson joined the 


business. The Jubilee clock at Malacca was erected by 
him in 1885. Mr. D. Maw, who was originally with 
Messrs. John Little and Co., was in the firm in 1895 as 
" compass adjuster." In 19 10 Tie was sole proprietor. 

William McKerrow and Co. — Mr. William McKerrow 
was an assistant in John Little and Co. in 1868. He 
shortly afterwards joined Guthrie and Co., but com- 
menced business for himself before 1 880, and remained in 
Singapore for many years, among those in the firm being 
J. Birrell, D. W. Lovell, G. H. D. Bourne, and, later, 
H. Freeman, also J. Love Montgomerie, who lost his 
life in the Mutiny. The firm ceased prior to 19 10, and 
Mr. McKerrow Was associated with Paterson, Simons and 
Co., in business in London, till he died in 191 8. He 
was a keen supporter of the Scotch kirk, and a member 
of the Municipal Commission in the 'Nineties, from which 
he resigned owing to a disagreement over the erection 
of a fire-engine station in the Square. His son is in 
Paterson, Simons and Co., Ltd., in Singapore. 

McAlister and Co., Ltd. — ^This firm was founded as 
McAlister and Company in 1857, ^^^ original partners 
being Alexander McAlister and James Parker Niven, 
whilst Ebenezer McAlister was an assistant of the 
firm. It is interesting to note that the Company to-day 
have on the walls of their offices in Singapore repro- 
ductions of photographs of both Alexander and Ebenezer 
McAlister, the original photographs bearing the dates 
of 1868 and 1875 respectively. A great fire occurred 
in McAlister 's premises, at the corner of Battery Road 
and Flint Street, on the 31st December 1864, the loss 
being very considerable, as the fire-extinguishing 
organisation at the time appears to have been too 
small. It is recorded that the fire engines used on 
that occasion were two small hand-engines from the 
police, one from Guthrie's, one from the convicts at the 
old gaol, and one from H.M.S. Perseus. History repeats 
itself, and McAlister's was burnt out again twenty- 
nine years later, in 1893. In the 'Eighties, when 
Ebenezer McAlister was still in Singapore, the partners 


of the firm, which had grown considerably since its 
inception, were C. C. N. Glass and J. S. Neave, a brother 
of D. C. Neave, of Fraser and Neave. John Muir came 
into the firm about 1883, and later Frank Warrack left 
Messrs. Paterson, Simons and Co. to become a partner 
in McAlister and Co. Mr. Warrack had as a co-partner 
Mr. Alexander Cumming, and they were later joined 
by Mr. A. H. Stephens, these gentlemen continuing 
actively to develop the business. Mr. Frank Warrack 
retired in 1903, and the Company then became incor- 
porated. Shortly after this date the principal interests 
of the business were acquired by Messrs. Mcllwraith, 
McEacharn and Co., Pty., Ltd., London, and Mr. A. D. 
Allan became Managing Director in Singapore, to be 
succeeded by Mr. A. Reid in 19 16. Since Messrs. 
Mcllwraith, McEacharn and Co. became interested in 
the Company the character of the business has largely 
changed, the shipping, coal, and export departments of 
the business being very greatly developed. The Com- 
pany has branch houses throughout the Peninsula, 
these being founded as follows : Penang 1898, Ipoh 
1904, Kuala Lumpur 1906. At one time McAhster's 
did a great business with Western Australia in pearls 
and pearl-shell, and their pearl auctions used to be 
held regularly after the arrival of the old Western 
Australian steamers, such as the Saladin, the Karakatta, 
and the Australind ) but this trade is now a thing of the 
past. Having an unbroken history of over sixty-one 
years, McAhster's is one of the oldest of Singapore 
business houses. 

Messageries Maritimes. — ^The parent of the Mes- 
sageries Maritimes was the Messageries Nationales, 
founded about 1835 as a Government line of mail 
steamers to the Levant. In 1852 a separate under- 
taking was formed, which subsequently (1871) became 
the present Company. The first steamer to arrive in 
Singapore was the Imperatrice^ on the 1 8th October 1 862, 
and from that dates the establishment of the Singapore 
agency in De Souza's Buildings and at D 'Almeida's 


Pier. The Batavia branch was inaugurated in 1864. 
In 1 871 Paul Brasier was agent and A. C. Byng pilot. 
Captain Byng remained for many years the senior pilot 
in Singapore, and lived at Bukit Chermin. He was a 
most polite and self-contained old gentleman in the 
'Nineties. In 1886 and onward M. de Bure was agent 
and Brasier de Thuy sub-agent. In 1900 M. A. Dumon- 
teil and M. P. Nalin were in Singapore, and in 1905 there 
was a main line A to Aden ; main line B to Djiboutil, 
branches Singapore to Saigon, Singapore to Batavia, 
and a monthly cargo-boat service, the whole amounting 
to twelve a month from Singapore, where M. Tournaire 
was in charge, to be succeeded in 19 10 by M. L. Bricard. 
M. de Courtois was in charge at the time of the out- 
break of the Great War. He went home ill in 1 9 1 8, and 
died on the voyage. Mr. A. Fombertaux took charge 
of the office in 191 8 and M. de Bussierre in 1919. 

McAuLiFFE, Davis and Hope. — ^This firm of accoun- 
tants came East as the result of a visit in 1908 of Mr. 
H. S. Hope, A.C.A., who came out to carry through 
certain professional work on behalf of London clients 
in the development of rubber in Malaya. In the 
following year Mr. A. Sydney Evens came out from 
the London office and founded the Eastern practice in 
Penang, under the name of McAuliffe, Davis, Evens and 
Co., of which he was the Eastern partner. He was inti- 
mately connected with Penang Sugar and Straits Sugar 
Estates, now under rubber. Mr. Evens afterwards 
joined this group as their Chief Accountant, and Mr. 
F. H. Grummit took over the management in Penang. 
Mr. J. S. Brittain, F.S.A.A., who had come out to join 
the Eastern firm on Mr. Evens 's retirement, came to 
Singapore in 191 2 and founded the Singapore branch. 
The present partners are the London firm, Mr. Grummit 
(Penang) and Mr. Brittain (Singapore). 

Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij (Nether- 
lands Trading Society). — As its name implies, the Neder- 
landsche Handel-Maatschappij was founded primarily 
as a trading company, and it has done much to promote 


commerce and industry in the Netherlands overseas 
possessions. It was estabhshed by Royal Charter in 
1824, and is thus within a few years of its centenary. 
In its early days, when the compulsory cultivation 
system was in force in the Dutch East Indies, the Society 
was the State agent for the disposal of the resulting 
produce, and with the abandonment of the system 
banking business in all its modern ramifications was 
undertaken. How successful this departure has proved 
is shown by the large increase in profits and the growth 
in the number of branches. The authorised capital of 
the Society at its foundation was fl. 3 7,000,000, and it 
now stands at fl. 100,000,000 (about ;^8,333,333). The 
Netherlands Trading Society is at present by far the 
largest Dutch banking concern in the world. Since 
December 191 3 fl. 2 5, 000,000 has been issued. These 
measures were rendered necessary in order to cope with 
the steadily growing business of the Society, especially 
abroad, the number of its branches having risen from 
seventeen in 1900 to thirty in 19 14. Of these twenty- 
four are established in the Dutch Dominions and six 
outside Netherlands India, viz. Singapore, Penang, 
Rangoon, Surinam, Shanghai, and Hongkong. 

The local branch was opened on the ist May 1858, in 
premises at Boat Quay, afterwards removing to No. 2 
CoUyer Quay (now the office of the Koninklyke Paket- 
vaart Maatschappij), in February 1893 again removing 
to larger premises at No. 14 Collyer Quay (now occupied 
by Messrs. Meyer Bros., Syme and Co., and others), where 
the banking business was practically started. Although 
this business was then gradually being extended, it 
increased greatly under the management of Mr. C. J. K. 
vanAalst(the ist October 1898 to the ist August, 1902), 
who is now President of the Board of Directors at the 
Amsterdam head office. The present premises. No. 1-2 
Cecil Street, corner of D 'Almeida Street, were bought in 
1 90 1, and occupied by the Bank since February 1902. 
The Managers after Mr. van Aalst were : J . W. van de Stadt , 
L. Engel, G. J. Houtsma, and C. W. A. M. Groskamp. 


Nippon Yussen Kaisha (Japan Mail Steamship Co.). 
— Founded in 1885 by the amalgamation of the Mitsui 
Bussan Kaisha Ltd. and the Union Transportation Co. 
The Nippon Yusen Kaisha was subsidised by the 
Japanese Government, and since 1899 has run most of 
its voyages under mail contract. Until 191 8 the agency 
in Singapore was held by Messrs. Paterson, Simons 
and Co., Ltd. 

The North China Insurance Co. has had its office 
here more than thirty years. Mr. B. C. T. Gray for 
many years (i 889-1 900) was in charge, followed by 
L. K. Davies and A. H. Turner, with a local committee. 

Paterson, Simons and Co. — ^The founders of this 
business traded under the name of Holdsworth, Smithson 
and Co., which firm started business in Singapore some 
time prior to 1828, in which year Mr. William Wemyss 
Ker joined them. He was admitted a partner on the 
22nd January 1830. According to the old newspapers, 
Richard Holdsworth and William Smithson retired on 
the 31st March 1835, and the name was changed to 
Ker, Rawson and Co. Mr. William Paterson and Mr. 
Henry Minchin Simons w^ere assistants in the middle 
'Forties, and both appear as partners in 1853. On the 
30th April 1859 the firm of Ker, Rawson and Co. was 
dissolved, and Messrs. Ker, Paterson, and Simons started 
business as Paterson, Simons and Co. as from the ist May 
1859, so that the firm this year (1919) celebrated its 
Diamond Jubilee under the present name. Partners in 
the firm since the original partners have been Thomas 
Shelford, C.M.G., W. G. Gulland, Charles Stringer, 
Cosmo Gordon Paterson, Henry Melvill Simons, George 
Muir, William Heard Shelford, Graham Paterson, and 
D. P. MacDougall. In 1907 the limited liability com- 
pany of the same name was formed, and in the same 
year the firm of William McKerrow and Co. was absorbed, 
Mr. McKerrow becoming a director of Paterson, Simons 
and Co. He died in London in 191 8, after a connection 
of fifty years with the Colony. In England Messrs. H. 
Melvill Simons, William Heard Shelford, and Graham 




Paterson still maintain their interest as Directors of the 
firm, and the Honourable Mr. C. W. Darbishire and 
W. P. W. Ker, a grandson of the original Ker, are 
Directors resident in Singapore. 

Several other well-known Singaporeans have been at 
one time or another in Paterson, Simons and Co., among 
them E. M. Alexander (1886-9), later in the Straits 
Trading Co. ; H. P. Bagley (later Eraser and Cumming, 
1887) ; A. C. Somerville (1900) ; and E. Warrack (later 
McAlister and Co.). 

The firm used to do all sorts of business, for in 1856 
they advertised for sale the late Dr. Montgomerie's 
nutmeg plantation at the junction of New Harbour 
Road and Tanjong Pagar Road, 32 J acres, with the 
dwelling-houses Craig Hill and Duxton. In 1888 
their agencies included the Johore Government, New 
Harbour Dock, Ben Line, Gibb Line, Union Line, 
four insurance companies, and the Pahang Corporation. 
By 1895 there had been added the Mogul Line, the 
Nippon Yusen Kaisha, the Tata Line, and the Pahang 
Kabang. By 19 10, when Mr. Darbishire was in charge 
in Singapore, the firm employed eleven Europeans, 
and had the Warrack, Apcar, Barber, North Pacific, 
Boston Steamship, Great Northern, Atlantic Transport, 
and White Star Lines, and the Eastern Mortgage 
Agency ( 1 902 ) . At the outbreak of war sixteen planting 
and rubber companies had their interests in the hands 
of the firm, and the European staff had increased to 
twenty-one, the branches opened including Penang, 
Kuala Liimpur, Klang, and Port Swettenham. 

P. S. and Co., or their partners, were instrumental in 
the formation of the New Harbour Dock Co., which pur- 
chased the property and goodwill of Tivendale and Co. 
(1863) at Sandy Point, "alongside the heaving down 
hulk." In a case reported in 1 874 against George Orton (a 
brother of the Tichborne claimant) as captain of the 
Chow Phya, the plaintiffs named were H. M. Simons, 
W. W. Ker, W. Paterson, W. Cloughton, Joseph 
Burleigh, Jose d'Almeida, and Ho Ah Kay (Whampoa). 


Joseph Burleigh's name is the only one in this list that 
does not stand prominently forward in Singapore history. 

Powell and Co. — ^The firm was estabhshed in 1863 by 
Mr. H. T. Powell, who in 1867 was also Secretary of the 
Singapore Club (then five years old) ; Secretary of the 
Singapore Exchange (aged eighteen) ; an auditor, with 
Mr. W. W. Willans, of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Co. ; 
and the Proprietor of the '* Exchange Prices Current " 
(printed by the Straits Times Press). Mr. J. T. Lloyd 
and Mr. C. Dunlop took over the business in 1871, and 
the former did not retire from it till 19 16, when he retired 
to England. In 1883 there were associated with Mr. 
Lloyd : Mr. C. Dunlop, Mr. W. H. Derrick (afterwards 
of the Pahang Corporation), and Mr. C. P. Derrick. Mr. 
H. L. Coghlan was in the firm in 1900, and two of Mr. 
Lloyd's sons. Powell and Co., Ltd., was formed to take 
over the business, the first Directors being Mr. C. M. 
van Cuylenberg and Mr. Harold Latham. 

Raffles Hotel. — ^This hotel was estabhshed by the 
brothers Sarkies in 1 888, in a large bungalow at the corner 
of Bras Basah Road and Beach Road. The original 
Proprietors were Martin Sarkies, Tigran Sarkies, and 
Aviet Sarkies, Tigran being very well known in Singa- 
pore for many years, with his chief man, " Joe Con- 
stantine," who has passed thousands of passengers 
through his hands with unfailing urbanity. Continual 
enlargements have been made, the last, in 191 8, raising 
the accommodation to close on 200 rooms. The present 
Proprietors are Aviet Sarkies, Arshak Sarkies, and M. S. 

Riley, Hargreaves and Co. — Richard Riley was in 
business in Singapore (High Street) in 1868 as a civil 
engineer, and he and William Hargreaves were ship- 
wrights at Boat Quay. Four years later the venue of 
the firm is given as North River Bank ; Samuel 
Erskine was moulder and J. Howarth engineer. Thus 
were the originators of the two firms one, again to 
become one by their amalgamation into the United 
Engineers, in the course of forty years. Erskine and 

Jl. 2r4] 



Howarth were both here in 1880, in River Valley Road, 
while Riley, Hargreaves & Co. were at Kampong Malacca. 
E. J. Wells, engineer of the Gas Co., and J. R. Allan were 
then partners. About this time Jackson Millar joined 
the firm from Tanjong Pagar, and Robert Allan was 
outdoor foreman. Jackson Millar had gone to Europe 
by 1900, when the Company was formed. Many well- 
known engineers in Singapore have " passed through the 
shops " of Riley, Hargreaves and Co. : C. E. F. Sander- 
son, A. Richardson, R. M. Goldie, R. Risk, J. L. Hope, 
Graham Hutchison, and W. M. Robertson. In 1900 
the Board of Directors included H. Muhlinghaus, W. M, 
Robertson (also Manager and in 190 1 Managing Director). 
G. A. Resting, G. M. Preston, and Jackson Millar. Five 
years later there were twenty-nine Europeans in the 
firm. Mr. T. C. B. Miller was Accountant. In igcS 
C. E. F. Sanderson was Managing Director, Mr. R. M. 
Goldie Manager, thirty-six Europeans, and branches 
at Ipoh and Penang. Riley, Hargreaves were the 
original ice-makers in Singapore. 

Robinson and Co. — Mr. Phihp Robinson, the founder 
of the firm, came to Singapore from Melbourne about 
1857, from the firm of Passmore, Watson and Co. He 
was one of the West of England Robinsons, a family well 
known for its abihty to put into the cricket field " Robin- 
son teams." One of his brothers was Mayor of Bristol. 
In i8s8, with James Gaboriau Spicer, Mr. Robinson 
opened business, and the partners continued together 
for a year, when Spicer left. Mr. George Rappa, jun., 
and Mr. T. C. Loveridge were partners for a time, and 
in 1886, when Mr. Philip Robinson died, his son, Mr. 
S. R. Robinson, took charge of the business and has been 
in control, here and in London, ever since. Mr. A. W. 
Bean joined the firm in 1886, and Mr. H. T. White and 
Mr. F. Apps more than a decade ago. 

Straits Steamship Company, Ltd. — ^This prosperous 

Company was formed in January 1 890, with an authorised 

capital of $500,000, paid up $362,800. The head ofiice 

was at No. i Robinson Quay, Mr. T. C. Bogaardt, the 

II— 15 


leading spirit of the Company, being first Chairman of 
Directors. Its fleet consisted of the Sappho, Captain 
Wahl ; Malacca, Captain Daly ; Willo' the Wisp, Captain 
Angus; and Billiton, Captain Chopard. Captain F. M. 
Darke was Marine Superintendent and Mr. D. J. Matthews 
was General Manager. Apart from a small service to 
Dutch ports, the steamers then traded between the ports 
of the Colony and the Malay Peninsula. In 1 892 Messrs. 
W. Mansfield and Co. took over the management of the 
Company, whose head office had been removed to No. 5 
Prince's Street. Mr. Bogaardt continued to take an 
active interest in the Company until 1 897, when Mr. C. W. 
Laird was appointed General Manager. The fleet in 
1900 included the Malacca, Captain J. M. Daly ; Sappho, 
Captain F. A. Turner ; Hye Leong, Captain W. S. Quine ; 
Neera, Captain J. H. Coyshe ; Ban Whatt Hin, Captain 
R. T. Olsen ; Lady Weld, Captain L. Treweeke ; Lady 
Mitchell, Captain S. Mugford. Just prior to 1900 the 
Tan Kim Tian Steamship Co., Ltd., was formed, and run 
under the directorship of the Straits Steamship Co., with 
Mr. R. Schmidt as its General Manager. Its fleet in- 
cluded the Giang Ann, Penang, Giang Seng, Zweena, and 
Flevo. Mr. D. K. Somerville joined the Company in 
1900, and was appointed General Manager in 1902, which 
office he held till 19 14, when he left for Europe. It was 
Mr. D. K. Somerville who was responsible for the pro- 
gressive building scheme which materialised with the 
arrival of the s.s. Selangor. By 1905 the Tan Kim 
Tian Steamship Co., Ltd., and the Straits Steamship 
Co., Ltd., were again separated, and the fleet of the latter 
Company at that date included the s.s. Bentong, which 
was lost in a collision in the Straits of Malacca in 1906. 
In 1 9 10 the fleet included the well-known passenger 
steamers Perak, Ipoh, and Kinta. The Directorate was 
strengthened in 19 10 by Mr. C. McArthur, of the Straits 
Trading Co., joining the Board, other directors being 
the Honourable Tan Jiak Kim, Mr. Lee Choon Guan, 
and Mr. Yow Ngan Pan, Mr. H. E. Somerville being 
then Manager ; Mr. J. H. Sunner, Marine Superin- 


tendent ; its captains including such well-known skippers 
(in addition to those named) as R. H. D. Sanderson, 
R. Upton, W. G. H. Morell, W. Stafford Fawcus, and 
H. Cobb. The Company at present owns twenty-two 
steamers, and the service has been extended to Bangkok, 
British North Borneo, and South Philippines. 

The Singapore Electric Tramway Co. is the 
successor of the steam tramways that formerly ran from 
Tanjong Pagar to Johnston's Pier and from Tanjong 
Pagar to Rochore. It lasted for three years, from May 
1886, and in 1889 the undertaking was offered for sale 
at auction at Crane Brothers, being purchased by the 
Tanjong Pagar Dock Co., who used it to convey goods 
to town for a few years only, when the rails were taken 
up and some of them were employed in constructing 
the vault of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank. Mr. 
A. A. Swan drove the first steam tramcar himself. The 
present Company was registered in 1902, in London, 
but it was not till 1905 that the cars started running. 
The contractors for the power station, track, and rolling 
stock were Dick, Kerr and Co. 

Sarkies and Moses goes back to 1840, and the three 
Moses, Catchick, Aristarchus, and Narses, were all here 
in 1 87 1 . They were pillars of the Armenian community, 
and Catchick did much for the old Armenian Church. 
Aristarchus Sarkies had come to Singapore in 1820, and 
Catchick joined his uncle in 1840 to open the business 
of Sarkies and Moses. He lived till 1892, and as he had 
come to Singapore in 1 828 — he served Boustead, Schwabe 
and Co. as an apprentice for five years — had an extraordi- 
nary experience of the place, as Mr. Buckley tells in his 
Anecdotal History. No firm in Singapore has had so 
long a life, with unchanged name and unchanged partners. 

RiBEiRO AND Co. — Mr. M. Ribeiro was a mercantile 
assistant and Consul for Portugal in 1879. His son, 
Mr. C. A. Ribeiro, opened the printing business now estab- 
lished here in 1895. 


Otto Puttfarcken and Otto Rheiner were clerks in 


Rautenberg Schmidt's before 1858. Old Otto was one 
of the founders of the Teutonic Club in 1856, then in 
a house in North Bridge Road, behind where Raffles 
Hotel is now. Puttfarcken, Rheiner and Co. was founded 
on the I St January 1857. Mr. Theodor Heinrich Sohst 
was an assistant in 1871, and Mr. P. J. Seth was a clerk 
in the firm when the " Rheiner " was dropped out in 
1888. Mr. Sohst was the head, and continued so till 
the liquidation of the firm before 19 10. Max Puttfarcken, 
a fine, handsome man, son of Otto, was out here in the 
'Eighties and 'Nineties, when the firm had eleven assist- 
ants, among them Mr. H. Schaefer. 

Rautenberg, Schmidt & Co. was opened in Singapore 
in 1848, the associated firms being Schmidt, Kustermann 
and Co., Penang, and Schmidt and Kustermann, Ham- 
burg. Henry Charles Rautenberg and Frederick George 
Schmidt were the founders, the. former having been in 
the German firm of F. E. Walte and Co. Mr. Schmidt 
was the sole partner 1852-8, but G. Cramer, Otto Putt- 
farcken, and Otto Rheiner were assistants, and in 1 863 
and in 1865 Franz Kustermann and Carl Sturzenegger 
became partners. In 1851 Rautenberg had gone with 
a party of three others in a sailing boat to Rhio, and she 
sank in a squall, and Rautenberg and another man were 
drowned. In the 'Seventies M. Suhl was the head of 
the firm, and in 1883 C. A. Ranch followed him. In 
1895 Mr. Ranch, P. Haffter, and A. Seumenicht were 
in the firm, which had then eleven European assistants. 
Ranch and Seumenicht were good musicians, and about 
this time chamber music flourished, a weekly meeting 
being held at Ranch's house, Mr. W. G. St. Clair being 
one of the party. Haffter was in Singapore in 1900-5, 
and R. Sturzenegger. The firm held the Austrian Lloyd 
agency, and had a large shipping and insurance con- 
nection. M. Suhl, jun., had charge in 1910, and con- 
tinued so to the outbreak of war. 

Vade and Co. was estabhshed prior to 1905, the name- 
founder being a brother of the wife of Mr. C. W. Coning- 
ton, who was in charge of Syme and Co. in the 'Eighties. 


Mr. Worsley Taylor, son of the well-known English King's 
Counsel, is the present senior. 

The Straits Trading Co., Ltd., which carries on the 
business of tin smelting, was started by the late Mr. 
Herman Muhlinghaus and Mr. James Sword in the year 
1886, under the style at first of Sword and Muhlinghaus. 
It was afterwards, on the 8th November 1 887, turned into 
a limited concern, under the title of " The Straits Trading 
Company, Limited." The original telegraphic address 
** Sword — Singapore " is retained to this day. Muhling- 
haus, who was the originator of the idea, was at one time 
in the firm of Volkart Brothers, of Ceylon and Western 
India, and he came to Singapore to the firm of D. 
Brandt and Co., leaving them afterwards of his own free 
will. It was at this time that, while having a look round, 
he visited the Native States (now the F.M.S.), and saw 
something of the tin mining there. Among other things 
he noticed the methods of smelting the tin-ore, and he 
formed the opinion that they were very wasteful, and 
that a good and profitable business could be started 
by introducing European methods of smelting and pur- 
chasing the ore from the miners. He appears to have 
acted promptly on his idea. Tin mining in the Malay 
Peninsula would appear to have been carried on for 
centuries. The industry was, and is, largely in the 
hands of the Chinese, but Malays and Siamese were also 
engaged in it (and latterly, of course, Europeans), and 
most of the old mining and smelting terms were in the 
Malay language, e.g. Lombong — mine (ordinary open- 
cast) ; Lombong Siam — shaft mining, said to be of 
Siamese origin ; Lampan or Leris — ground sluicing ; 
Pooboot Timah — tin smelting ; Relau — furnace ; Tek- 
kang — slag, etc. etc. 

Two styles of smelting furnaces were used, the Relau 
Semut and the Relau Tongkah. The Semut was of 
cylindrical form, of clay, about 8 ft. to 10 ft., and 5 ft. 
diameter in the centre. It had a natural draught, but 
it required the best hard-wood charcoal to keep it going. 
The Tongkah furnace (named from its place of origin) 


was also of clay, in crucible iprm, built into a framework 
of iron bars, and raised on an iron tripod stand. The 
draught is produced by a rough bellows made from a 
hoUowed-out tree trunk, and worked on the piston and 
cylinder principle. It can be used with inferior charcoal 
or even charred wood. It is still in use, but the Semut 
has pretty well gone out. These furnaces were worked 
either by the miners themselves or by Chinese smelters, 
who made a business of buying the ore from the miners, 
as the Straits Trading Co. did later on. Attempts to 
find out what results were got from this kind of smelting 
never revealed any satisfactory information. The Chinese 
professional smelter got pretty fair returns from the 
higher grades of ore, but had difficulty in dealing with 
the lower qualities. The Straits Trading Co. was 
supposed for many years to have a monopoly of smelting 
in the Straits Settlements. This is untrue, as they had 
the very keenest competition from Chinese smelters, 
especially in Perak. It was only by continually im- 
proving and cheapening their methods that they were 
able to hold on their way. 

Sword was a partner in the firm of Gilfillan, Wood and 
Co. (now Adamson, Gilfillan and Co., Ltd.). His health 
gave way, and he had made up his mind to cut adrift 
from the Straits and clear out for good. It was at this 
time that he was approached by Muhlinghaus and asked 
to join with him in the new smelting venture. Sword 
knew nothing of tin refining, and Muhlinghaus was aware 
of this. It was the custom in those days for the miners 
to send out the tin in a rough state ; some of it was refined 
at Malacca on the way down, and the remainder mostly 
by Singapore merchants themselves, after purchase from 
the Chinese. After taking time to think the matter over, 
Sword made a trip to Australia and home, and finally 
agreed to fall in with Muhlinghaus 's proposal. The 
combination turned out a very happy one. 

To start the business the first thing to do was to get 
permission from the Native States Governments to 
export the tin-ore. This was obtained without much 


difficulty apparently in the case of Selangor and Sungei 
Ujong (now part of Negri Sembilan) ; but Perak would 
have none of them at first, as they feared the business 
would lead to smuggling, but the permit was obtained 
about two years later. They were welcomed by some 
of the Residents of States, because they were going to 
pay cash for the ore on delivery in place of the truck 
system then largely in use by the miners ; and also 
because the Native States Governments were getting 
alarmed at the rapid destruction of the forests by the 
charcoal burners for the local smelting. As the opening 
up of the new business entailed the outlay of considerable 
capital and considerable risk, the promoters asked for a 
monopoly of the export of tin-ore for a period of years. 
This concession was granted by the Selangor Government, 
and also, for a short term, by Sungei Ujong, but never 
by Perak. The percentage of metal in the ore on which 
export duty was calculated was supposed by outsiders 
to be very advantageous, but it was not so, as the ore was 
not then cleaned up as it was later on, when the percent- 
age was raised. 

The question of finance was arranged at first through 
the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, but the Directors 
in Hongkong of this Institution would not agree to it, 
much to the disgust of the then local Manager, the late 
Mr. W. G. Greig. The account was then taken over for 
the Chartered Bank of India, AustraUa and China by 
their Manager, at that time the late Mr. William Dougal, 
to whom the new concern was frequently indebted for 
his sympathy and financial support. In order to collect 
the tin-ore from the miners, it was necessary to open 
branches in the Native States for this purpose. 

Sungei Ujong was opened by Muhlinghaus at Serem- 
ban. The Resident of the State was then Mr. W. F. B. 
Paul, and among his subordinates were the late W. R. H. 
Carew, W. W. Douglas, E. P. Gueritz, and, later, Arthur 
Keyser, etc. Among the non-officials were the late 
T. H. Hill, the late A. B. Rathbone, the late Abraham 
Hale (then engaged in mining pursuits), the late Sheikh 


Abdulrahman, etc. The Company's godown was erected 
in Paul Street, Seremban, and it stood until 1918, when 
the new building was put up. Some of those who joined 
the Company about that time were Gustav Guntzel, 
O. Oertlopp, the late W. R. M. Wragge, the late J. W. 
Gunn, the late G. J. Penny. An interesting phase of 
the Sungei Ujong branch was the opening up of the little 
State of Jelebu, where Muhlinghaus was interested in 
mining concessions, which were afterwards worked as 
the Jelebu Mining Co. under the management of the late 
James W. Gunn, a clever and interesting man. The 
Johore Mining and Tin Co. was another concern, with 
which were associated William Dunman, Horace Brett, 
L. W. Money, John Gardner, etc. Both these concerns 
did well at one time, but their lands are now mostly 
worked out, and have passed into other hands. Mr. 
Evan Cameron worked for the Company in Seremban 
for about sixteen years in all. In the old days the port 
was Penkalen Kampas, on the Linggi River. Since then 
the railway has been built, and Port Dickson has come 
into existence as the port in place of Penkalen Kampas. 
The mining in this State dwindled down, but with the 
development of rubber the town of Seremban has 
extended greatly. 

The Selangor branch was started by Sword in a small 
shop in Ampang Road, Kuala Lumpur, afterwards 
moving to the present site near the railway premises and 
the Padang. The Resident of Selangor was then Mr. 
(now Sir Frank) Swettenham. Among his officials were 
A. R. Venning, the late Sir John Rodger, Conway 
Belfield, H. C. Syers, Hon. Martin Lister, H. F. Bellamy, 
etc. Among the non-officials were the late W. W. 
Bailey, the late Fred. Toynbee, R. C. Rendle, and H. O. 
Maynard. Selangor soon developed into an important 
branch, and it was for a long time the mainstay of the 
Company's business. Mr. Cameron paid a visit to Kuala 
Lumpur in the year 1887, and met Mr. Sword there for 
the first time. In later years he worked there for the 
Straits Trading Co. Among those who followed Mr. 


Sword were the late F. O. West, a very well-known man 
in his day, and very hospitably inclined. In his time 
the " Tinneries " (as the godown and living quarters 
were then called) was a great social centre. Others were 
the late George Gumming, the late E. M. Alexander 
(Sandy), both well-known and popular men ; G. H. D. 
Bourne, W. W. Cook, and W. F. Nutt. The branch is at 
present under the management of Mr. J. M. Sime. 

Perak. — Mr. Muhhnghaus opened this branch about 
1888 or 1889. He began work at Gopeng in Kinta, 
his first leading customer being the late Towkay Eu Kong, 
father of Towkay Eu Tong Seng. The headquarters were 
later on transferred to Ipoh, and sub-agencies as in 
Selangor were opened afterwards at Lahat, Kampar, 
and other places. The Perak seat of Government was, 
of course, at Taiping, as it is now. Mr. F. Swettenham 
had then become Resident in the place of the late Sir 
Hugh Low, retired. There was no inducement to start 
business at Taiping in those days, but there is a sub- 
agency there now. The Kinta District Government was 
in charge of the late Mr. J. B. M. Leach and other 
officials, including Hubert Berkeley, W. G. Maxwell, 
F. J. Weld, W. P. Hume, etc. Muhhnghaus was very 
successful in Perak, and worked up a fine business there. 
He had a wonderful way of attracting the Chinese miners 
to him. Work was difficult owing to the undeveloped 
state of the country, no roads nor railways, and the 
Kinta River the only means of transport . Pilfering of ore 
in transit was at one time a serious source of loss. Later 
on, the Kinta Valley Railway came through, and things 
were easier, and Perak is now considered the Company's 
most important branch. Among the earher men in 
Perak for the Company were Oertlopp (Manager), the 
late D. J. Berwick, the late W. R. M. Wragge, and 
Henry Tatlock (Manager for many years, and a very 
popular man). The last-named was in Germany when 
the War broke out, and cannot for the present be traced. 
Mr. F. E. de Paula is now Manager. The non-officials 
included Grant-Mackie, Douglas Osborne (then starting 


his hydraulic mining schemes, which were afterwards to 
prove so successful), J. J. and the late C. Tait, Walter 
Tait, and the late G. M. Donald. 

The Tongkah branch was started quite recently 
(in the year 1902) by Mr. Frank Adam, who joined the 
Company about that time. 

Smelting. — ^The first reducing of the ore was done in an 
old smelting shed at Teluk Anson, formerly the property 
of the Shanghai Tin Mining Company, a concern which 
had mines inKinta, but which had closed down. To this 
place came the first smelting staff, and among them two 
men, John McKillop and John Carroll, as Manager and 
head smelter respectively. They were in the Company's 
service for many years, afterwards occupying prominent 
positions. Carroll, on the retirement of McKillop, 
succeeded to the managership of the smelting works. 
He, in turn, was succeeded by Mr. S. B. Archdeacon, 
the present Manager. The starting of the business ap- 
pears to have been difficult.; the leading miners were 
very suspicious, and there were many wheels within 
wheels : for instance, the mines were largely financed 
from Singapore and Penang, and the advancers wanted 
tin in exchange for what they sent up in the shape of 
stores, etc. Weights were another problem. The 
Native States pikul was different from the Straits (the 
kati was based on the weight of so many silver dollars, 
something hke twenty-four dollars in one place and 
twenty in another). Pikuls 100 in the Native States 
weighed pikuls 107 in Singapore. In buying ore this was 
allowed for in the price to the seller, but on the mines it 
was not considered at all in deahng with the coohes 
selHng the tin to the miner, who consequently scored an 
extra profit on it. In some cases, the difference was 
much greater — there was no really good system of 
control of weights and measures, and swindHng went 
on right and left. This state of things has long since 
passed away, and one system of weights prevails every- 
where ; but it was difficult to overcome these troubles 
at first. The fact of the Company paying in cash instead 


of partly in kind, as was the old custom, was a great 

The first experiments of smelting were apparently 
very disappointing at Teluk Anson. They could not 
get the tin out of the ore, and it looked at one time as if 
the whole thing would close up. A curious incident 
is related of what took place at that time. It was 
discovered that a lot of tin, as molten metal often 
does, had percolated into the ground below the furnace. 
Quite a large mass was dug out, and was pointed to with 
pride by the smelting manager as the missing tin 1 
There was a shrewd suspicion in some quarters that this 
tin was an unintentional gift from the old Shanghai 
Company, but anyway it saved the situation for the 
time, and it was from about this date that things began 
to mend, and the smelting plant was transferred to 

The new smelting works were erected at Pulo Brani 
Island, New Harbour, Singapore, on lease from the 
Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, Limited. The site 
was at one time the property of the old Bon-Accord 
Graving Dock (Buyers and Robb), and some of the old 
buildings were made use of. The smelting works are 
there to this day. Other sites were looked at — among 
them Button Island, New Harbour, and later on the late 
Captain Bing's property at Bukit Chermin. The works 
were established in 1890, the personnel of the Company 
in that year being : General Manager, J. Sword ; 
Manager of Branches, H. Muhhnghaus ; Sungei Ujong, 
O. Oertlopp ; Selangor, F. G. West ; Batu Gajah, 
Archibald Kennedy ; Ipoh, W. M. R. Wragge ; Gopeng, 
C. G. Mackie ; JPulo Brani, Manager, John McKillop, 
Foreman Smelter, John Carroll. It was at this time that 
the Limited Company (Straits Trading Company) was 
formed, and the Singapore office opened. (Gilfillan, 
Wood and Co. did the Singapore work at first. Adamson, 
Gilfillan and Co., Ltd., are the London agents.) Sword 
and Muhlinghaus took charge alternately in Singapore 
from year to year, until about the year 1899, when they 


both practically retired from active participation in the 
Company's affairs. Successive Managing Directors have 
been: Charles MacArthur, W. W. Cook, T. E. Earle, 
Frank Adam, E. F. Mauldon, and to-day W. F. Nutt. 
Among the first shareholders were the late James Miller, 
T. E. Earle, and other partners of Gilfillan, Wood and 
Co. ; Huber and Cadonau, of Fischer, Huber and Co. ; 
W. Hutton, of John Little and Co., Ltd., etc. Many of 
the leading men in Singapore, however, for many years 
declined any participation in the Company's affairs. 
Mr. George Derrick was for many years the Company's 
Accountant, and Charles Crane, the late Secretary, was 
a very old servant. 

The Straits Trading Company at times had in view 
other business besides tin smelting, but the schemes did 
not mature. They had individual interests in tobacco 
planting and coffee estates in Selangor and Perak, but 
they were not a success. The late Mr. T. C. Bogaardt, the 
founder of the Straits Steamship Company (a man of 
great ability), was the man with whom the first arrange- 
ments for carrying the ore by sea were made, and his two 
captains, the late O. Wahl, of the Sappho, and J. M. Daly, 
of the Malacca (now of the Ipoh), carried the ore in their 
ships very successfully for many years. 

Penang Smelting Works were opened in the year 1902 
to take over the increasing business, and have now 
assumed large dimensions. 

From small beginnings the Company has spread to 
great things, and is now probably the largest smelter 
of tin in the world, and has had many years of great 
prosperity. They were not without their periods of 
trouble, and there were times when it needed all the 
ability of the management to surmount them. The 
more recent history of the Straits Trading Company is 
well known. Since they started, over thirty years ago, 
vast changes have taken place in the Native States. 
The railways, which were then only the lines from Kuala 
Lumpur to Klang and Taiping to Port Weld, have now 
extended from Penang to Singapore on the west side 


and as far as Siam. The country has been further 
opened up by a magnificent road system. New towns 
have sprung up, and the older ones have extended 
greatly. Port Swettenham has come into existence, 
and the country has been covered with vast areas 
under rubber cultivation. 

With regard to the tin-mining industry, an enormous 
amount of work has been done, and the amount of ore 
produced would, if reckoned up, reach astounding 
figures. The quantity dealt with by the Straits Trading 
Co. is almost past belief. Unfortunately, an alluvial 
mine is not a thing that lasts very long as a rule, and 
large areas of mining land, especially in the southern 
parts of the Peninsula, have become worked out. Many 
valleys that in comparatively recent years had thousands 
of coolies at work in them are now silent and deserted. 
New and unexpected finds are taking place, but it is 
difficult to foretell what will happen (for one thing the 
country, being covered with jungle, is difficult to pros- 
pect), and it is generally believed that the F.M.S., at least, 
have reached the top as regards tin production. The 
tendency now is to look in the States further to the north 
for fresh fields. 

Swan and Maclaren. — ^The founders of this firm of 
architects and engineers were Mr. A. A. Swan and Mr. 
J. W. B. Maclaren in 1885, and in 1895 their assistants 
were Mr. Alan Wilson (who died in Penang in 191 8), 
Mr. J. Meikle, and Mr. R. W. Crichton, architects. By 
1900 Mr. Swan had retired; Mr. R. A. J. Bidwell had 
become a partner (1899), and continued so for many 
years ; Mr. T. Swales, architect (went to Rangoon and 
established himself there, with Mr. E J. Pullar, also of 
Swan and Maclaren, 190 1-6); Mr. S. af. Klinteberg, a 
civil engineer, a Swede, who died in Penang in 191 8; 
and Mr. Jas. Stark, established in Penang. Mr. A. J. 
W. Watkins, originally in the F.M.S. railways, had 
become a partner by 1905, and Mr. V. A. Flower was in 
the firm. Mr. Flower retired before the War, but joined 
up, rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in charge of 


a London battalion, and was killed in action. Mr. T. 
Bramell was in the firm in 1910, for a time in charge of 
the Bangkok branch. Mr. H. Robinson became a 
partner a year or so later, Mr. D. McLeod Craik and 
V. Steadman were the architects, Mr. H. L. Penfold an 
engineer, and the staff of surveyors included Messrs. 
R. D. Jackson and A. A. Lermit. Mr. Maclaren was 
trained as a civil engineer in Edinburgh, was formerly 
engaged on an extension of the Caledonian Railway and 
on the Calansas and Marsis Railway, and was one of a 
commission to report on Naples Waterworks. Mr. 
Watkins was in the same firm in Edinburgh, and up to 
1902 was engaged in railway work in the Federated 
Malay States. Mr. Bidwell came into the firm in 1895, 
having been assistant to the Superintending Architect 
of the London County Council. He originally came out 
to Selangor, and under Mr. C. E. Spooner designed 
the Kuala Lumpur public buildings. He married a 
daughter of Mr. C. M. Allen, of Perseverance Estate, who 
was A. R. Wallace's assistant in Borneo. Swan and 
Maclaren came easily first among those in control of 
the metamorphosis of building in Singapore, among 
their achievements being the Victoria Memorial Hall ; 
the Chartered Bank (both buildings) ; the Hongkong 
Bank ; John Little and Co. and Katz Bros., new stores ; 
innumerable stores in town and houses in the country ; 
the P. and 0. steel wharves ; Raffles Hotel ; additions to 
the Adelphi and Europe Hotels ; Commercial Union 
premises ; Eastern Extension Telegraph Co.'s office ; 
and buildings at Finlayson Green. 

Syme and Co. — ^The firm of Syme and Co., merchants, 
was founded by Mr. Hugh Syme in the year 1823, and 
continues to this day in Singapore under the same 
name. Mr. Syme was one of the first Commissioners 
of the Peace, appointed in 1 826, and remained connected 
with the Settlement until 1830. On the 29th March 
of that year he sailed from Singapore in the British 
ship Flora for Anjer, to join a home-going ship there, 
but was not destined to reach the Old Country. Falling 


R. KEK. 

W. KER. 

II. 228] 



ill on the voyage, he died at sea off the Cape. News 
of this, which did not reach Singapore till November, 
came in a letter from Mr. C. R. Read, of A. L. Johnston 
and Co;, written from St. Helena. He left for Europe 
about three months after Mr. Syme did, and probably 
learned of his death on arrival at St. Helena, which was 
a regular port of call in those days. A house known 
as Duxton, standing in sixteen acres of ground off 
New Harbour Road, as it was then called, was the resi- 
dence and property of Mr. Syme. Later members of 
the firm, Mr. Robert Diggles and Mr. Thomas McMicking, 
also lived there. The house no longer exists. It stood 
on the land forming the triangle made by Tanjong 
Pagar Road, Craig Road, and Neil Road, now covered 
with houses and intersected by the two roads known as 
Duxton Road and Duxton Hill, by which the name 
survives. The property, which was planted with spice 
and fruit trees, was eventually acquired by Dr. Mont- 
gomerie. Another link with the time of Mr. Syme is 
a tombstone, still existing, in the old cemetery on Fort 
Canning Hill, to Mr. Samuel Sweeting, one of the firm's 
earliest employees, who died on the 30th September 1 830. 
Mr. Syme goes back to the very earliest days of Singa- 
pore. He is one of the ninety-four European inhabitants 
of the year 1827, and these included " punch-house 
keepers." Of the Hst of firms of 1823, Syme and Co. is 
the only one surviving, although Guthrie and Clark have 
their representatives in Guthrie and Co., Ltd. A. L. 
Johnston and Co. closed down in 1890, and J. Purvis six 
years previously. Syme and Co. were appointed Lloyd's 
agents in 1829, and the original document of appoint- 
ment is still in existence, though dilapidated, and is 
probably the oldest commercial document referring to 
Singapore. Mr. F. J. Bernard, Notary PubHc, had 
represented Lloyd's in Singapore up to the time Syme 
and Co. were appointed agents. 

Throughout its long existence the partners and 
assistants of Syme and Co. have played an important 
part in the history of Singapore. Mr. Robert Ker, one 


of the earliest, came east in the Twenties. One of his 
voyages was made in the brig Matilda y 260 tons register, 
which sailed from Liverpool on the 13th June 1827, 
and reached Batavia in no days. He did not retire 
from Ker, Bolton and Co. till 1870. His nephew, Mr. 
William Ker, jun., who followed his father Mr. William 
Ker in the firm, started as a clerk in Syme and Co. in 
1 846, became a partner six years later, and retired from 
Ker, Bolton and Co. in 1884, living to 191 2, when he was 
over ninety years of age. His son, J. Paton Ker, was 
also in the firm in Singapore in the 'Eighties, a fine 
amateur jockey; he died in 191 7. Another partner 
who had a long connection with the firm was Mr. Joseph 
Cheney Bolton. He retired from Ker, Bolton and Co. 
in 1884. Mr. Thomas McMicking, who was a trustee of 
the Raffles Institution, became a partner in 1835. He 
was one of those that made the celebrated and nearly 
fatal voyage to Malacca in 1836 in the newly arrived 
paddle-steamer Jardine. The engines could only be 
got to go by fits and starts ; finally the vessel went on 
fire in the Straits, all on board having a very narrow 
escape. Mr. McMicking in 1835 was nearly killed by 
gang robbers in his house, Duxton, an affair that 
created a great sensation at the time. Mr. Gilbert 
McMicking became a partner in Syme and Co. in 1852, 
at which time Mr. William Mactaggart, whose sons were 
well known in Singapore in later years, was an assistant 
in the firm, becoming a partner in 1857. Mr. Robert 
Jardine, who later joined Ker, Bolton and Co., came out to 
Syme and Co. in 1852. In 1857 Mr. G. M. Dare was an 
assistant in the firm of Syme and Co. Mr. George Arm- 
strong was an assistant from 1856 to 1862, and Buckley 
tells us that he was a member of the first Volunteer 
Corps, a tall and remarkably athletic man. Mr. James 
Lyall was a partner in 1866, and subsequently estab- 
lished himself first as a broker, and later in association 
with Mr. P. T. Evatt as an accountant. Mr. James 
Graham, although but a comparatively short time in 
Singapore, was one of the leading men after the Transfer, 


and had a remarkable career. Of Border and Ulster 
stock, he was born in County Tyrone in 1838. As a 
boy he got his early business training in a well-known 
South American firm, and was married at Lima to 
Jane Buckley, niece of a partner of the firm. In 1869 
he returned to England and started business, and in 
1875 accepted an offer from Ker, Bolton and Co. to 
manage their Singapore house, S3^me and Co. He re- 
mained in the Colony till 1886, when he was recalled 
to Glasgow, and became a partner in the home firm, 
dying on New Year's Day 1905, just as he was on the 
eve of retirement from the firm, of which he was then 
the senior partner. His son, Mr. James Graham, jun., 
was in Syme and Co. from 1892 to 1906, and is now a 
partner in Ker, Bolton and Co. Mrs. James Graham, sen., 
is still living and well (January 1919), and resides with 
her daughter at Limpsfield, Surrey. Mr. Graham the 
elder, while he lived here, entered into the affairs of the 
Colony with Ulster energy and wholeheartedness. He 
was for five years a Member of the Legislative Council, 
and brought to its debates much abihty and indepen- 
dence of thought, besides a good deal of the saving 
grace of humour. 

The Singapore Free Press of the ist February 1905, 
in its obituary notice, wrote of him as follows, and 
those who knew him will agree that the words quoted 
give an excellent sketch of his personality : 

" Owing nothing to local influence or connection, he 
rapidly came to the front in business and social circles, 
purely through force of character, level-headedness, 
and unswerving uprightness. In manner blunt and 
outspoken, he sometimes gave offence to those who 
did not understand him by his impatience of humbug ; 
and he never failed to speak his mind, whether in the 
Chamber of Commerce in his early days, at the Club, 
where he was generally the centre of a group of seniors, 
or in the Legislative Council, where he soon made his 
mark, sharing the honours of opposition with Thomas 
Shelf ord and WilHam Gulland. His best speech in 
II — 16 


Council was perhaps that opposing Lord Kimberley's 
scheme for disendowing the Colonial Chaplaincies (in 
1882). . . . 

" Mr. Graham was a great reader. Like John Bright, 
he brought to all the subjects he handled a mind stored 
with the English classics, and this gave tone and style 
to all his public speaking. He was a keen politician, 
and, as became an Ulster Protestant, he detested Home 
Rule. A genial companion and a warm and trusty 
friend, his sympathies were always with those in 
trouble or misfortune ; and a worthy cause, whether in 
fashion or not, was sure of his help and advocacy. In 
society he was as much sought after as in grave affairs, 
and when early in 1886 he joined his firm at home, he 
left a blank in Singapore." 

Coming on down the list of Syme and Co.'s representa- 
tives, Mr. C. W. Conington (1890) was a Member of 
Council for a short time, and was a very keen racing 
man. Mr. John F. Craig (1901) was greatly interested 
in music, and took a large part in the organisation of 
the Singapore Philharmonic Society. 

Syme and Co. have, since the Thirties and 'Forties, 
been in close association with several strong home and 
Eastern firms — Murray, Syme and Co. (later Sholfield, 
Doering and Co. and then Sholfield, Bolton and Co.), 
Liverpool ; and Ker, Murray and Co. (later Ker, 
Doering and Co.), Glasgow ; and now Ker, Bolton 
and Co., London apd Glasgow ; also with Ker and Co., 
Philippines (established at Manila in 1827 as Strachan, 
Murray and Co., later as Ker, McMicking and Co., and 
from 1846 as Ker and Co.), and with Pitcairn, Syme 
and Co., Java (estabhshed at Batavia in 1825). 

The following is a list of the resident partners of 
Syme and Co., with the year of their leaving Singapore, 
an asterisk indicating the gentlemen that joined Ker, 
Bolton and Co. : Hugh Syme, 1830 ; *Robert Ker, 1834 ; 
Edward Diggles, 1834; Thomas McMicking, 1846; 
Nath. P. Rees, 1849; *Gilbert McMicking, 1853; 
William Mactaggart, 1864; James Murray, 1868; 
James Lyall, 1866; William Webster, 1872; * James 


Graham, 1886 (member of Legislative Council from 
1881 to 1886); C- W. Conington, 1890; *John F. 
Craig, 1901 ; H. M. March, 1894; *James Graham, 
jun., 1906 ; Alex. M. McNeil (at present, 1919, in Singa- 
pore), and Robert S. Menzies, 19 12. Non-resident part- 
ners in Syme and Co. in 19 19, in addition to members 
of Ker, Bolton and Co., are R. S. Menzies (Sourabaya) 
and Thos. J. Tayler (Batavia). Present (1919) partners 
in Ker, Bolton and Co. are : Messrs. Robert J. Paterson 
(London), James W. Murray (Glasgow), C. S. Weir 
(Glasgow) James Graham (London), and James M. 
Beattie (Glasgow). Three former partners, Messrs. 
Robert Jardine, John Ross, and John F. Craig (latter 
with Syme and Co. at intervals from the 'Eighties to 
1 901), are still alive. 

Among the interests with which the firm has been 
identified in Singapore is that of the trade in mineral 
oil in bulk. Their connection with this lasted from its 
start in 1891 till 1908, during which time they repre- 
sented, as agents, Messrs. M. Samuel and Co., London, 
later the Shell Transport and Trading Co., Ltd., and 
then the Asiatic Petroleum Co., Ltd. The agency ter- 
minated in 1908, on the last-named company opening 
an office of its own in Singapore. 

ToMLiNSON AND Lermit. — Mr. Sam Tomlinson came 
to the East in 1886 (from the Bradford Corporation), 
to be waterworks engineer at Bombay. He was ap- 
pointed Municipal Engineer, Singapore, in 1 896. Pearl's 
Hill Reservoir is one of his chief works while in the 
Municipahty, and he negotiated the purchase of the Gas 
Works and the present Municipal Offices, and took part 
in the great Tanjong Pagar Arbitration case. He was 
associated with Messrs. Swan and Maclaren in the new 
Europe Hotel and Whiteaway's buildings. Mr. A. W. 
Lermit joined Crane Bros, from home in 1883, and in 
addition to furnishing plans for the Adelphi and Katz 
Bros, buildings, carried out important surveys in Pro- 
vince Wellesley, Johore, and Singapore. He is the 
Nestor of Singapore architects. 


White AWAY, Laidlaw & Co. was founded in Calcutta 
in 1882, and came to Singapore in 1900, quickly opening 
branches at Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Taiping, 
Seremban, Klang, Malacca, and Teluk Anson. It 
became a limited company in 1908. The fine block of 
buildings opposite the Post Office was erected for the 
firm in 19 10. It replaced an historic but somewhat 
squalid mass of houses belonging to the Flint family. 

Whampoa & Co. is a fine example of a family firm, and 
is entirely associated with the name of Mr. Hoo Ah Kay 
Whampoa, who was one of the first members of the 
newly constituted Legislative Council. In 1889 Mrs. 
Hoo Ah Kay had the chief interest in the firm. Mrs. 
Cheah Hee Lin and Chun Chun Fook signed per pro, 
in 1895 and Hoo Hong Kee in 1905. 



By the Rev. W. Murray, M.A. 


When the British flag was planted in 1819, and the 
Settlement of Singapore began to develop as an em- 
porium for trade, Christian missionaries came to it from 
the older Settlement of Malacca, first as visitors at 
intervals, and then as residents. Roman Catholics, 
who had been in Malacca since the days of Francis 
Xavier in the sixteenth century, had a numerous follow- 
ing, and were able at once to supply workers for the new 
Colony. Protestant missions began in Malacca in 181 5, 
and Drs. Morrison, Milne, and Legge,who were the pioneer 
missionaries there, had a share in the beginning of 
Protestant mission work here. It is on record that the 
Rev. W. Milne, of the Anglo-Chinese College, Malacca, 
applied for ground to build upon as early as May 18 19, 
and received from Sir Stamford Raffles the sum of $150 
in consideration of his performing services as Chaplain 
(Logan 's Journal IX, p . 442 ) . Under these leaders, along 
with John and Alexander Stronach, the L.M.S. (London 
Mission Society) estabhshed itself. In 1834 Singapore 
became a station of the A. B.C. P.M. (American Board of 
Commissioners of Foreign Missions), and its agents were 
Tracy, Dickinson, Hope, Trevelli, and North, the three 
former working in the Chinese language and the two 
latter in Malay. North was a practical printer, and had 
a well-furnished printing-press. About the same time 
the C.M.S. (Church Missionary Society) sent the Rev. 



Mr. Squier here to work among the Chinese. The 
American Baptists also contemplated beginning work, 
but there is no evidence that they actually commenced it. 

The chief efforts of these early Protestant missionaries 
lay in the direction of establishing schools, in which work 
they were assisted by the Government and residents. 
Their great difficulty was in inducing parents (Chinese 
and Malay) to send their children to school ; and when 
they did send them, to induce them to let the children 
stay at school for more than a few months. They were 
also energetic in translating portions of the Scriptures 
and tracts, and formed the Singapore Christian Union 
in 1 830, under the auspices of which tens of thousands of 
Scriptures and tracts were distributed. Very little was 
done in the way of direct preaching, because for a long 
time there was no one competent enough in the native 
languages to undertake it. So far as conversions were 
concerned, the result of the work of these early days was 
practically nil ; and this is not surprising in a time when 
almost none could read and no direct appeal by preaching 
was made. 

The L.M.S. Chapel stood at the corner of Bras Basah 
Road (then called Church Street) and North Bridge 
Road, and was used for services by European residents. 

The work of the above-mentioned missionary societies 
came to an end both in Malacca and Singapore when 
China was opened to foreign residents. The chief aim 
of these Societies was to reach the Chinese, and it was 
only because China was at the time closed to them that 
missionaries settled in the Straits at all. First the 
A.B.C.F.M. removed its men to China in 1839 ; and by 
1847 ^11 th^ L.M.S. men had left, except the Rev. B. P. 
Keasberry, who severed his connection with the Society 
and continued here as an independent and self-sup- 
porting worker. 

Before proceeding to record the history of the various 
denominations which have established themselves in 
the Colony during the century, it is well to give a descrip- 
tion of Mr. Keasberry and his work, because he and it 


had no official connection with any of the denominations 
to be described. He was for many years the only 
missionary here, and his labours were of a strikingly 
varied and lasting character. 

Benjamin Peach Keasberry (181 1-75) was the son 
of a colonel in the Indian Army who had been appointed 
Resident of Tegal, Java, by Sir Stamford Raffles in 
1 8 14. Educated in Mauritius and Madras, he came to 
Singapore and opened a general store. But, finding 
after a time that the prospects were not bright, he closed 
it, and took service as a clerk in a British firm in Batavia. 
The sudden death of a bosom friend solemnised his mind, 
and led him to devote himself to religious work. He 
attached himself to Dr. Medhurst, of the L.M.S. in 
Batavia, under whom he learnt the art of printing and 
bookbinding. In 1834, having received some money 
from his father's estate, he went to America to college, 
and returned to work among Malays in Singapore under 
the A. B.C. P.M. He remained here until his death, 
without ever leaving the Colony. When the A.B.C.F.M. 
removed their men to China, he joined the L.M.S., and 
continued here, and when the L.M.S. men were removed, 
he remained as an independent worker. He had gathered 
round him a congregation of Malays and Chinese ; had 
Malay boys as boarders in his school, among whom were 
some princes ; had established a printing-press ; and 
was a master of the Malay language. Moreover, he had 
the sympathy of Colonel Butterworth, the Honourable 
Thomas Church, and the principal merchants. We can 
well understand that these many ties made him choose 
to sever his connection with the L.M.S. rather than leave 
Singapore. Prince's Street Church (then known to 
everyone as the Malay Chapel) was built for this work 
in 1843, the money being subscribed by residents. The 
opening services were conducted by the Rev. Samuel 
Dyer, of Penang, and Dr. Legge, of Malacca, both being 
missionaries of the L.M.S. From 1847 to i860, with the 
exception of Miss Grant and Miss Cooke, he was the only 
Protestant missionary in the Colony. For thirty-eight 


years he carried on manifold operations — preached on 
Sundays, translated the Scriptures, tracts, and hymns, 
managed a printing-press, conducted a day and boarding 
school. He helped the poor, sometimes beyond the 
limit of his means, and his name became a household 
word with all sections of the community. He died 
suddenly while speaking in his chapel on the 6th Septem- 
ber 1873, and was buried in the Bukit Timah Cemetery, 
his grave being marked by a stone placed on it by 
H. H. Abubakar, Maharajah of Johore, G.C.M.G., one 
of Mr. Keasberry's old scholars. 

The Church of England in Singapore 

The Church of England in Singapore has the advantage 
and disadvantage of being an established church. It 
has had the advantage of a salary of a chaplain being paid 
by the Government for many years, after the example of 
the Indian Establishment, and of a very fine church being 
erected and kept by the Government. This, which 
apphes equally to Malacca and Penang, has been a help, 
especially when the communities were small. On the 
other hand, the fact of establishment has not produced 
a vigorous church life out here. Instead of its members 
feeling a personal responsibility and saying '* we ought 
to do so and so," the theory has more often been " they 
ought to do so and so," the " they " generally meaning 
the Government. Thus initiative has not been fostered. 
Further, members of the Church of England have devoted 
themselves to definite and purely secular work, such 
as the Raffles School (which had a voluntary governing 
body before it became a Government school), and have 
not reahsed the special call of the Church to claim the 
nations for Christ. This is partly the reason why the 
Church of England has lagged so far behind in educa- 
tional and other works. 

When Singapore came under the East India Company, 
the territories managed by that Company formed part 
of the Diocese of Calcutta, the Bishop of Calcutta then 
being the only Bishop of the Chui-ch of England in the 


East. vSingapore remained as part of the Diocese of 
Calcutta till after the Straits Settlements were cut off 
from the Indian Empire. It then, in 1868, was trans- 
ferred to the existing Diocese of Labuan and Sarawak, 
and the whole diocese was termed the Diocese of Singa- 
pore, Labuan, and Sarawak. This could, of course, be 
only a temporary measure. This unwieldy diocese was 
too vast to allow one bishop to supervise adequately 
countries so scattered and so diverse as the Straits 
Settlements, the Federated Malay States, Sarawak, and 
British North Borneo. The United Diocese of Singa- 
pore, Labuan, and Sarawak survived two Bishops — 
Bishop W. Chambers (1868-80) and Bishop Hose 
( 1 881-1908). It fell to Bishop Hose to arrange and 
provide for the separation of the Malay Peninsula from 
Labuan and Sarawak, and he postponed his resignation 
•until this was accomplished, not wishing that another 
Bishop should be appointed to this unwieldy diocese to 
which he had been appointed. Consequently, on the 
resignation of Bishop Hose, two separate dioceses were 
newly constituted, and in 1909 the Rev. W. R. Mounsey 
was consecrated as Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak and 
the Rev. C. J. Ferguson-Davie as Bishop of Singapore. 
The so-called Diocese of Singapore includes the 
Straits Settlements and the Malay States, together with 
the British communities in Siam, Java, Sumatra, and 
the adjacent islands. 

The first residency chaplain of the Church of England 
who was posted in Singapore was the Rev. Robert Burn, 
B.A. He had arrived in Bencoolen in 1825 to be Resident 
Chaplain there, in succession to the Rev. C. Winter, who 
had recently died. As the headquarters of the Govern- 
ment was being transferred to Singapore, he was sent 
to the new Settlement soon after reaching Bencoolen. 
On the 2 5th August 1825 he had reached Penang, and was 
detained there during the absence of the Chaplain of that 
Settlement. He, however, wrote expecting to reach 
Singapore early in 1826. During the latter year he was 
at work in Singapore, and a letter written to a brother 


in that year shows that he did not find his people as 
responsive as he had hoped. The Rev. R. Burn died 
in Singapore in 1832, and is buried in the old cemetery 
on Fort Canning Hill. 

The chaplaincy continued as a chaplaincy of the East 
India Company till the British Government took over 
the rule of India. Since that time it has been a Govern- 
ment chaplaincy. The Bishop of Calcutta from time 
to time paid visits to Singapore. The famous Bishop 
Daniel Wilson (1832-58) visited Singapore in 1834, 
when he took part in arranging for the erection of the 
first St. Andrew's Church. In 1838 he came back to 
consecrate the church, and subsequently visited it in 
1842, 1850, and 1856. This first Church of St. Andrew, 
consecrated in 1838 by Bishop Wilson, stood on the site 
of the present Cathedral. In 1845, and again in 1849, 
the steeple was struck by lightning, and in 1 8 5 2 the church' 
was disused, as the building was considered dangerous. 
In 1854 the foundation-stone of the present Cathedral 
was laid by Bishop Wilson, then seventy-eight years of 
age, and on the 25th January 1862 his successor in the 
see of Calcutta, Bishop Cotton, consecrated it. The 
building is 181 feet long, internal measurement from the 
west door. Including the tower it is 226 feet between 
the exterior points of the building. The nave and side 
aisles are 55 feet wide and the spire 207 feet from the 
base to the centre of the iron cross. It was designed by 
Colonel Macpherson, who was Executive Engineer at 
the time, and was built largely by convict labour. The 
site is very suitable for a fine building and the effect of 
the architecture of the church standing in such an excel- 
lent open space makes it one of the most noticeable 
features of Singapore. When the Straits Settlements 
were transferred from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of 
Calcutta to that of the Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak, 
Bishop Chambers in 1870 made St. Andrew's Church 
the Cathedral Church of the United Diocese. 

While the church was being erected, an attempt was 
made in the building up of the body of the spiritual 


n. 240] 


Church, and in 1856 a mission was established connected 
with the congregation of St. Andrew's Church. It was 
termed St. Andrew's Church Mission. This was 
strengthened a few years later by the sending out of a 
missionary by the S.P.G., the Rev. E. S. Venn, who 
arrived in 1861. After his death there was no superin- 
tendent missionary till the arrival in 1872 of the Rev. 
W. H. Gomes. Mr. Gomes was a man of marked ability, 
and during his tenure of office the school, which has now 
developed into St. Andrew's Boys' School, was started, 
the school chapel (now St. Peter's Church) was opened 
in 1875, while the S.P.G. Mission House was built in 
1877, and the Church of St. John, Jurong, was built 
for a Christian agricultural colony. 

In 1874 the Church of England commenced work 
amongst the seamen of the port, and the work was 
continued under three Chaplains to Seamen, but was 
subsequently dropped. 

In 1 88 1 Archdeacon Hose, the first Archdeacon of 
Singapore, who was then Colonial Chaplain of Singapore, 
was consecrated as Bishop of Singapore, Labuan, and 
Sarawak. During his occupancy of the see, St. 
Matthew's Church, Sepoy Lines, was built, and institutions 
for European boys and girls were opened, so that those 
who lived far away from Singapore might have a home 
while they attended the Government school. The former 
of these, built in European style (principally through 
the energy and liberality of Mr. C. B. Buckley), St. 
Andrew's House, Armenian Street, now has about fifty 
boarders, while the latter, St. Mary's Home, Tank Road, 
(originally St. Nicholas's Home) is excellently housed in 
a spacious mansion of a Chinese towkay, which has been 
adapted to its present use by the addition of dormitories 
capable of accommodating about sixty girls. St. Mary's 
Home owes much to the work of Archdeacon Izard. 
It was during Bishop Hose's time also that the Chinese 
Girls' School ^ on Government Hill, which now has over 

1 The Chinese Girls' School was begun under the L.M.S. by Mrs. Dyer, 
who, on leaving the island, handed on the work in 1843 to Miss Grant 


sixty inmates, became part of the organisation of the 
Church of England. 

During the last few years there has been a strength- 
ening of mission work, principally through an organisa- 
tion known as the Singapore Diocesan Association, 
which aims at strengthening the various departments 
of work throughout the diocese. This has been the 
means of bringing to Singapore the Rev. J. Romanis 
Lee, M.A., Principal of St. Andrew's School, who has 
raised the school between 191 1 and 191 6 from a second- 
grade to a first-grade school, with over 500 scholars, 
and teaching to the Cambridge Senior Local Examination. 
In mission work the staff has been increased in late years 
by the addition of one Tamil and two Chinese priests, 
in addition to the Rev. R. Richards, the Europeanmission- 
ary in charge. It may here be noted that the staff of St. 
Andrew's Cathedral had, prior to the Great War, been 
increased to three. There were two on the staff twenty 
or thirty years ago. A Medical Mission for Women and 
Children, in charge of lady doctors, was founded by 
Mrs. Ferguson-Davie, M.D., in 191 3. There are about 
eight thousand attendances annually at the dispensaries, 
and a small number of in-patients are taken. At the 
present time an appeal is being made for funds to build a 
well-appointed hospital for this important work, which 
up to now has been carried on in hired houses. 

Another recent branch of church work (opened in 
1 910 by Miss Fitzgerald) is that of the Girls' Friendly 
Society, which has a club for girls and rooms for women 
who are working in the town. Miss E. M. Stephenson 
is now in charge of this. 

There doubtless is room for far greater extension 
of the work of the Church of England in Singapore. 
With a communicants' roll of 500 at the Cathedral and 
250 at the Mission Church, where services are held in 

of the Female Education Society. Miss Cooke took charge in 1853, and 
kept up the work till her death in 1895. In 1900, when Miss Gage Brown 
was Principal, it was put under the Church of England Zenana Missionary 


six languages, with one boarding-house for Chinese boys 
and one for Chinese girls, with hostels for European and 
Eurasian boys and girls, and with a staff of seven 
European and three Asiatic clergy, there is at any rate 
a good nucleus for a strong and progressive branch of 
Christ's Church. Amongst those who have done faithful 
work in Singapore, special reference must be made to 
six who worked for over thirty-five years in Singapore : 
Bishop Hose as Chaplain, Archdeacon, and Bishop ( 1 868- 
1908) ; Miss Cooke and Miss Ryan in the Chinese Girls' 
School; the Rev. W. H. Gomes, B.D., in the Mission ; 
Mr. Edward Salzmann, for forty-four years organist at 
the Cathedral ; and Mr. C. B. Buckley, who spent nearly 
fifty years in the East, and who, starting with a small 
class in Sunday school as a young man, became the 
friend of generations of people in the town. 

The Catholic Church 

the french mission 

I . The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd 

The first missionary to visit the Catholics of Singapore 
appears to have been Father Imbert, who was on his 
way to China in December 1821, and, at the request of 
the Vicar Apostohc of Siam, called at the new Colony, 
founded two years previously, remaining there a week. 
He afterwards wrote to Monseigneur Florens that he 
had found there about a dozen Catholics. 

In 1824 the Catholics of Singapore applied to Mgr. 
Florens for a priest. But the Bishop, being in doubt as 
to whether the island of Singapore was comprised in his 
diocese, referred to the Propaganda for directions, and 
jurisdiction was conferred on him by a decree of His 
Holiness Pope Leo XII, dated the 22nd September 
1 827, confirmed by another decree of Pope Gregory XVI, 
on the 3rd January 1840. 

Matters, however, remained in statu quo until the 
arrival of Mgr. Bruguiere, Bishop of Capsa, Coadjutor 
for Siam. He had called at Singapore in 1831, on his 


way from Bangkok to Penang. Before leaving Singa- 
pore on the return journey, in 1 832, he entrusted the new 
flock to the care of Father Clemenceau, who had then 
recently arrived from France. He likewise wrote to 
Father J. B. Boucho to come down from Penang and 
settle certain difficulties. 

On the 1 8th October 1832 Father Boucho succeeded 
in obtaining from the Resident, Mr. Bonham, a site for 
a church at Bras Basah Road, where St. Joseph's Insti- 
tution now stands. The good Father lost no time in 
inviting public subscriptions, and returned shortly after 
to Penang. The church was begun by Father J. P. 
Courvezy, and completed, on the 9th June 1833, by 
Father E. R. Albrand, who also built a small vicarage. 
Prior to tha t missionaries saidMass in the house of one 
Mr. MacSwiney. 

In the course of a few years the new church was found 
inadequate for the rapidly increasing congregation, and 
it was therefore decided to convert it into a school, and 
to build a church elsewhere. A site at the corner of 
Bras Basah Road and Victoria Street was granted by 
Government on the 20th July 1842, and the foundation- 
stone of the present Cathedral of the Good Shepherd was 
laid there on the i8th June 1843. The vicarage, which 
later became the Bishop's house, was completed in 1859 
by Father J. M. Beurel. 

Mgr. Courvezy, on being appointed Vicar Apostolic 
of Siam, resided at Singapore from 1838 to 1843. It 
was during this period, viz. on the 20th October 1839, 
that Father Beurel, the real founder of the parish of the 
Good Shepherd, arrived. On the loth September 1841 
the missionary province of Siam was divided into two 
dioceses. Mgr. Courvezy became the first Vicar Apos- 
tolic of Malaya, which was then ecclesiastically known 
as Western Siam, but subsequently as the Malayan 

On the 2 1 St December 1843 Bishop Courvezy left 
the mission field for France, and did not return. Father 
Boucho, who had for the past twenty years ministered 


to the Catholics of the Peninsula, then took charge of 
the diocese as Pro-Vicar Apostolic. Subsequently, in 
August 1845, he was appointed Bishop, and was con- 
secrated at Calcutta as Bishop of Athalia and Vicar 
Apostolic of the Malayan Peninsula. On his return he 
continued to reside at Penang until his death. 

Bishop Boucho was succeeded by Bishop Michael 
Esther Le Turdu, who at first also resided in Penang, 
but later, on the 3rd July 1 87 1 , took up residence in Singa- 
pore, which Settlement has ever since been the head- 
quarters of his successors. He returned to Europe, 
owing to ill-health, early in 1877, and died at the Semi- 
nary in Paris shortly after his arrival, in the fifty-first year 
of his age, and after having laboured twenty-seven years 
in the East. 

His successor, Mgr. fidouard Gasnier, came to the 
Straits as Vicar Apostolic in 1878. It was during his 
tenure of office that the old title " Bishop of Malacca " 
was re-established by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, and 
as a consequence the Vicarate Apostolic of the Malayan 
Peninsula became the Diocese of Malacca. Permission 
was granted by the Holy See to the new Bishop to make 
Singapore his residence, and the Church of the Good 
Shepherd his Cathedral. About the same time, by an 
Ordinance No. XI of 1888, passed by the Legislative 
Council of the Straits Settlements on the 1 5 th November, 
" The Titular Roman Catholic Bishop of Malacca, 
resident in the Straits Settlements " was made a corpor- 
ate body. This Ordinance was repealed and replaced, 
with extended privileges, by another Ordinance passed 
on the 31st May 1910 (No. XV of 1910), which gave a 
proper status to the Mission. Bishop Gasnier died in 
Singapore after several years' illness, on the 8th April 
1896, and was buried in his Cathedral. His funeral was 
very largely attended, H.E. the Governor, Sir Charles 
B. Mitchell, the Consuls, and other officials being 

The Right Rev. R. Fee, who succeeded Bishop Gasnier, 
was the first Bishop consecrated in the Cathedral of the 


Good Shepherd. This unique ceremony was held on 
the 22nd November 1895. Two other important events 
also took place shortly after. The first was the visit 
of the Papal Delegate, Monseigneur Zaleski, who arrived 
in Singapore on the ist January 1897. The visit of 
this distinguished prelate was much appreciated by all 
the Catholics of the place. The other event was the 
consecration of the Cathedral, which had been enlarged 
to its present dimensions in 1888. Bishop Gasnier had 
often expressed a wish to perform this ceremony himself, 
but was unable to carry out his intentions, owing at 
first to a debt remaining on the church, and, later, owing 
to his continuous ill-health. It was therefore left to 
his successor. Bishop Fee, to perform the ceremony on 
the 14th February 1897. Bishop Fee had charge of the 
See of Malacca till his death, which took place in France 
in January 1904. 

His Holiness Pope Pius X was then pleased to appoint 
the Right Rev. E. Barillon to the vacant See of Malacca. 
His Lordship was consecrated in Paris, and arrived in 
Singapore on the 2 1 st November 1 904. The new Bishop 
was no stranger to the Mission, having already for eight 
years laboured in the diocese, both at Penang and Singa- 
pore. He was now returning to the Straits after an 
absence of twelve years, spent in Paris in the formation 
of aspirants to missionary work. 

In April 1905 an exchange of land was effected 
between the Mission and the Government, the Mission 
giving up all their land lying on the line of extension of 
Queen Street, and receiving in its place a portion of the 
land situated behind the Maternity Hospital. 

Bishop Barillon celebrated his Sacerdotal Silver Jubilee 
in September 1909 ; it was attended by thirty-five 
French priests and about two thousand people. 

This short history of the French Catholic Cathedral 
would be incomplete without mention of Bishop C. 
Bourdon. Born in 1834, Bishop Bourdon was ordained 
in i860 and appointed Bishop of Upper Burma in 1872. 
After fifteen years' arduous work in that mission, he 


retired owing to ill-health. He recuperated for some 
time in Hongkong, but finally, on the invitation of 
Bishop Gasnier, made Singapore his permanent home. 
As Chaplain to the troops and to the General Hospital, 
he rendered good service for many years, and endeared 
himself to all those with whom he came in contact. 
His Lordship celebrated his Sacerdotal Jubilee on the 
1 8th September 1910, being then seventy-six years of 

2. The Chinese Church of SS. Peter and Paul, Queen 


The first Catholic missionary to labour among the 
Chinese of Singapore was Father E. Albrand. This 
zealous priest gave himself unreservedly to the good 
work during the years 1833-5. He was subsequently 
appointed Vicar Apostolic of Kwei-Chow. Father 
Albrand 's work was ably carried on by Father John 
Chu, a Chinese priest ordained in Bangkok by Bishop 
Courvezy and brought by him to Singapore in 1839. 
Other pioneer missionaries of those days were Father 
A. Maudit and Father F. Issaly ; the former arrived 
in 1844 and the latter in 1847. 

The Church of SS. Peter and Paul, with its tower, was 
erected by Father P. Paris in 1869-70. Heretofore 
the Chinese and Indian Catholics had attended the 
" Good Shepherd," but this arrangement ceased on the 
completion of the new church, as both these communities 
repaired thither. It is said that the cost of the com- 
pound wall of the church was defra3^ed by the Emperor 
Napoleon III. 

In 1883 Father Paris purchased the three beautiful 
bells which are still in use, but the state of his health 
prevented him from being present when the bells were 
blessed. He died shortly afterwards, on the 23rd May 
1883, and was buried in his church. Four years pre- 
viously the remains of Father Issaly, who had died in 
Hongkong in 1874, had been translated here and in- 
terred in the same church. These two missionaries 
II — 17 


are regarded as the founders of this fine parish, and their 
memory is still held in high veneration by the elderly 
Chinese Catholics of Singapore. The spire of the belfry 
and the present vicarage are the work of Father L. 

Father F. Vignol in 1891 built an extension, and this 
notwithstanding the fact that the Indian community 
had a few years previously withdrawn to their own 
beautiful Church of Our Lady of Lourdes. He like- 
wise erected three marble altars, the High Altar being 
consecrated by Bishop Gasnier. 

Joseph Chan Tek Yi in 1897 purchased the grounds 
adjoining the church, and erected thereon, at his own 
expense, the eleven houses known as St. Joseph's 
Houses for the accommodation of catechists, widows, 
and the aged. In 1910 he, in conjunction with Low 
Gek Seng, defrayed also the cost of enlarging the church 
gallery, erecting a porch, and extending the facade. 

Altogether about forty young missionaries have 
passed through the Church of SS. Peter and Paul, 
the majority, however, remaining just long enough to 
acquire a knowledge of the Chinese language. 

3. The Chinese Church of the Sacred Hearty Tank Road 

Prior to 1910 the Church of SS. Peter and Paul 
was the parish church of all the Chinese Catholics of 
the town of Singapore. But notwithstanding its great 
size, it had nevertheless become too small for the con- 
gregation, ever on the increase. It had, moreover, 
enjoyed the privilege of having, so to speak, two vicars : 
the holder of the office looking after the Teh-Chews 
and the Hok-kiens, and Father V. Gazeau, who minis- 
tered to the Khehs and the Cantonese. Another 
church for the two last-named sections of the Chinese 
CathoUc population was sorely needed. After many 
efforts a suitable site was acquired close to Tank Road 
Railway Station, but it was far from spacious. Father 
Gazeau had great difficulty in obtaining the funds 
requisite for building, and it was some years before he 


could utilise the site. He erected first the vicarage, 
also used as an orphanage, and then the church. 

The foundation-stone of this new church was laid on 
the 14th June 1908, and the blessing of the entire 
edifice took place on the nth September 19 10. Since 
that date the Church of the Sacred Heart has 
become the parish church of the Khehs and the Can- 

4. The Tamil Church of Our Lady of LourdeSj Ophir 


The Indian Catholics of Singapore were for a long 
time without a church of their own. They attended 
the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, and later on the 
Church of SS. Peter and Paul, where Father Paris 
attended to them as well as to the Chinese. 

When Father J. Meneuvrier, who was the first mis- 
sionary to have exclusive charge of the Tamil congre- 
gation, arrived in 1883, a small house situated in Water- 
loo Street served him both as a dwelling-place and a 
school. This house was later on occupied by Father 
Gazeau, and subsequently demolished by the Christian 
Brothers to make room for the extension of their 

In 1885, the Government granted a site in Ophir 
Road. The foundation-stone of the new church, 
dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, was laid on the 
I St August 1886, and the church, together with the 
vicarage and school, erected beside it, was opened in 


I. The Chinese Parish of Bukit Timah, St. Joseph's 


In 1846 Father A. Maudit, assisted by Father Beurel, 
built a church and took up permanent residence here. 
The Church of St. Joseph, which exists to this day, 
was erected in 1852-3. Father Maudit may be 
regarded as the founder of this parish, which he ad- 


ministered till his death in 1858. He was buried in 
the church, which later was to receive the mortal 
remains of several other missionaries. The present 
vicarage was built by Father Perie in 1852. 

2. The Chinese Parish of Seranggong, Church of the 
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

The Seranggong parish was founded by Father 
Maistre about the year 1853, for the earhest baptisms 
recorded in the registers go back to the Christmas of 
that year. The parish church was some seven miles 
from Singapore town. Father Maistre first erected a 
small attap building, to which he added a room for the 
purpose of his catechism classes. The congregation 
becoming more numerous, he next determined to build 
a church. The project happily matured, and within 
a short time the good Father had the satisfaction of 
seeing a brick church erected. Father Issaly later 
added to this church a ceihng and verandah. In 1880 
Father Page replaced the old attap construction by a 
parochial house of wood, raised on brick pillars. 

Father C. Saleilles, who succeeded Father L. Page, 
erected a new catechism hall, to which were attached 
quarters suitable for a boys' and girls' school. Finally, 
he set about the erection of the present fine Gothic 
church with its triple nave and belfry, the latter being 
visible from a considerable distance, towering above 
the surrounding country. The foundation-stone was 
laid on the 2nd August 1898, and three years later 
the church was solemnly consecrated. In 1908 a second 
storey was added to the old church, which was now 
superseded and converted into the present vicarage. 

The parish of Seranggong has a branch church at 
Ponggol, situated three miles away, on the shore of 
the Johore Straits, where, in 1904, Father Saleilles 
built a chapel and house for the benefit of about twenty 
Catholic famihes scattered in the neighbourhood. 

The Catholic population of Singapore Island under 
the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Malacca is about 


8,900 : Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, 3,000 ; Church 
of SS. Peter and Paul, 2,200 ; Church of the Sacred 
Heart, 1,150; Our Lady of Lourdes, 1,000; Serang- 
gong Church, 1,200 ; Bukit Timah, 350. 

All the missionaries are members of the Societe des 
Missions Etrangeres, which was founded in Paris in 
1659 ; according to the annual report for 19 16 it now 
numbers in all 46 Bishops and 1,258 missionaries in the 
Far East. 

In 1857 a Procure house was estabhshed in Singapore 
at the corner of River Valley Road, to take charge of 
the temporal affairs and general administrative work 
of the Society. 

ST. Joseph's institution 

This Catholic educational estabhshment was founded 
in the year 1852 by the Rev. Father J. M. Beurel, 
who was very anxious to ensure to the boys entrusted 
to his care the advantages of a sound religious and 
secular education. As far back as 1841 we find him 
working with a view of securing the services of the 
Christian Brothers for educational purposes in Singa- 
pore. The Superior-General of the Congregation, who 
was then residing in Paris, appeared to have been 
more or less opposed to the project ; but the Rev. 
Father did not desist from his purpose, and finally 
proceeded in person to Paris to plead his cause. His 
journey was not fruitless, for towards the close of March 
1852 he returned to the scene of his labours with six 
Brothers, three of whom were destined for Singapore, 
and the others for St. Xavier's, Penang, an analogous 

The Brothers lost no time in getting to work, and the 
first classes were held in the disused old church at 
No. 8 Bras Basah Road. Though intended primarily 
for Catholic children, the school was nevertheless open 
to all, irrespective of religion, and in a short time 
became very popular with the Singapore community. 
In 1 863 the school received official recognition from the 


Government, as also an annual grant. In the same year, 
too, school fees began to be charged. The old church 
building proving inadequate for the ever-growing 
needs of the school, it was determined to provide a 
building more in keeping with the requirements of the 
times. This project was happily brought to a successful 
issue by the Rev. Brother Lothaire, Director, in 1867. 
The school grew and prospered, notwithstanding pe- 
cuniary and other difficulties, until 1881, when, owing 
to local differences and misunderstandings, the Brothers 
withdrew, and for the space of about four years the 
establishment was run by lay masters. The Brothers 
returned in 1885. In 1898 it was deemed advisable 
to extend the building, but for various reasons the 
project was postponed until the Rev. Brother Michael 
took charge two years later. This enterprising Director 
at once set to work, with the result that very soon 
the two semi-circular wings were added to the central 
portion. The work was carried on in co-operation 
with the late Rev. Father Nain, who drew the plans 
and supervised the construction. 

The school now entered on a period of prosperity 
and activity. New pupils flocked in numbers, the 
results of the public examinations were very encouraging, 
especially those for the Queen's Scholarships, the 
number of Brothers increased, the class-rooms were 
congested, and the need of the hour was for more space. 
Government was approached in 1906, and showed itself 
very sympathetic. The new school fronting Waterloo 
Street was erected in 1907, at a cost of $37,000. Towards 
this sum the Government generously gave $20,000, 
the balance being contributed by friends and bene- 
factors, conspicuous amongst whom were the Chinese. 
The last effort of Brother Michael to bring the school 
up to date was the erection of the beautiful hall and 
chapel at the rear of the main building. The school 
celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 191 2, and the occasion 
was availed of by its old pupils to found a Diamond 
Jubilee Scholarship for the Cambridge classes. Besides 


this scholarship, there are four others available for the 
boys attending the higher classes. 

There are at present over 1,200 boys distributed 
among thirty-two classes attending the school. A 
pleasing feature of recent years is the large number of 
pupils attending the secondary classes. This is par- 
ticularly the case with the commercial class, where, 
besides learning the usual business subjects, the pupils 
qualify for the L.C.C. certificates. The recent changes 
in the Cambridge Local syllabus have made a second 
language compulsory, and French is taken by all the 
boys in the higher division. One effect of the War has 
been that the number of Brothers has considerably 
decreased. There is a flourishing boarding establish- 
ment attached to the Institution ; the boys are under 
the direct supervision of the Brothers, who pay par- 
ticular attention to their moral and intellectual well- 

The physical side of education finds its scope and 
action on the football and tennis grounds attached to 
the Institution. The boys compete yearly, in a series 
of inter-class football matches, for the school cup, and 
thus the old maxim mens sana in corpore sano is never 
lost sight of. Quite recently a school cadet corps has 
been established. Altogether the prospects at present 
are bright, and the authorities look to the future with 
hope and confidence. 


The Fathers of the Society of the Foreign Missions 
finding it absolutely necessary to get help for missionary 
work amongst the girls of Singapore, the Rev. Father 
Beurel went to France, and approached the Rev. Mother- 
General of the Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus for 
assistance. His request was granted, and four Sisters 
left France for the East ; but only three of these reached 
their destination, as the Superior of the little band died 
on the way, and was buried at sea. The three that 
arrived at Singapore in March 1852 were, to the great 


disappointment of the Rev. Father Beurel, sent to 
Penang, where their first house was founded. Soon 
after another Httle band of Sisters set out from South- 
ampton, and, after a weary journey across the desert 
in caravans, arrived eventually in Penang ; one of 
these, Sister St. Mathilde, was appointed Superior of 
the Convent there. 

In February 1854 Rev. Mother St. Mathilde, with 
three Sisters, arrived in Singapore to start the Convent 
here. They received many orphans, did needlework 
for the ladies of the town in a hastily organised work- 
room, and lived very poorly ; but the need of financial 
help making itself felt, a paying boarding school was 
opened. This was a great success, and the number of 
children increased rapidly. Help was sent from the 
parent house in France, and new batches of Sisters 
arrived at various dates, all anxious to help in the great 
work of redemption of souls. 

On the 7th January 1876 Rev. Mother St. Mathilde 
was appointed Superior of the Yokohama Convent, 
which she had founded two years previously. She was 
succeeded in Singapore by the Rev. Mother Gaetan, who 
ably filled the office of Superior from 1876 to 1892. 
Under her care the different good works established 
went on developing, and, when the existing house became 
too small, she had a new wing erected to accommodate 
the paying boarders and pupils of the new important 
school, to which the children of Singapore flocked in 
large numbers. In 1892 this good Reverend Mother 
left for England to procure help for her good work in 
Singapore ; but, to the great regret of all who -knew 
her, she died in London on the 22nd August of the same 

Rev. Mother St. Hombeline, who was already 
Mistress of Novices from 1887, was then elected Superior 
of the Singapore Convent. Her zeal and devotedness 
were quite equal to that of her regretted predecessor, 
and the Convent went on growing. The orphanage and 
day school developed even more rapidly. Accommo- 


dation not being sufficient, another wing was added to 
the already extensive establishment, and toward this 
the Government contributed $20,000. A beautiful 
chapel was erected, thanks to the generosity of many 
kind friends and benefactors. 

At present the orphanage contains about 200 children, 
not to speak of many Chinese babies who are received 
in the creche. The number of children attending the 
school has increased apace with recent years, and at 
present there are about 700 children on the registers. 
The school is under Government control, and pupils are 
prepared for the Cambridge Locals. 

On the 8th November 191 6 Rev. St. Hombeline died 
suddenly of apoplexy. Her unexpected end was a 
great shock to all, and her loss is deeply mourned by 
the children and people of Singapore, in whose interest 
she worked for so many years. 


The rise and growth of the Catholic Church in Singa- 
pore under the Portuguese Fathers date back to the 
earlier days of Malacca, the oldest of the seaports of 
the Straits ; after the conquest by the explorer Afonso 
d 'Albuquerque, a wide field was opened for missionary 
enterprise in the East. 

In 1557 was created the Diocese of Malacca (subject 
to the Arch-diocese of Goa), the Church of Our Lady 
of the Assumption there being made a Cathedral and 
a body of Canons appointed for it by a Bull of His 
Holiness Pope Paul IV, dated the 4th February of 
that year, which at the same time placed the Diocese 
under the patronage of the Crown of Portugal. 

With the capture of Malacca by the Dutch in 1641 the 
Diocese of Malacca disappeared, and every other trace 
of Catholicism was extirpated with the utmost vigour 
by the adherents of Calvinism ; and it was not till 
i795> when Malacca passed from Dutch to British rule, 
that the Catholic religion breathed again the air of 


freedom of which it had been deprived for a century 
and a half. 

Upon the occupation of Singapore by Sir Stamford 
Raffles in 1819a great incentive was given to immigra- 
tion, and missionary activity developed apace. Thus, 
in 1822, we hear of the first Portuguese Catholic priest, 
Padre Jacob, coming from Malacca and obtaining from 
Sir Stamford Raffles a site for a church in Singapore, 
and, although it appears that he did not succeed in 
erecting the church, we may justly infer that from that 
year he took the Catholic residents under his care. 

The Rev. Francisco da Silva Pinto e Maxia, of Oporto, 
Portugal, was, however, the first to settle as Catholic 
Pastor in Singapore, where he arrived from Macao on the 
7th April 1825, and he is commonly held to have been 
the founder of the Portuguese Mission here. Having 
obtained the necessary powers from the Archbishop of 
Goa, he built and opened for worship a small church on 
the spot where, up to 191 2, stood the Parochial House, 
but which is to-day incorporated in the St. Anthony's 
Convent. Father Maxia worked zealously at the 
development of his mission for twenty-five years in 
Singapore, and died on the 17th February 1850, being 
buried in the Old Cemetery, Fort Canning, whence his 
remains were afterwards transferred to the Church of 
San Jose when it was built. A few weeks before his 
death he had been made a Knight of the Portuguese 
Order of Christ. He bequeathed all his money, and 
part of the land forming the present church compound 
at Victoria Street, w^hich he had bought with his own 
moneys, to the Mission for the erection of the Church of 
St. Jose, the other part having been granted to him 
for the same purpose by the East India Company. 

He was succeeded by Father Vicente de Santa 
Catharina, who lost no time in taking in hand the 
building of the church, which he saw completed in 1853, 
at a cost of about $15,000, being principally moneys 
left by Father Maxia, supplemented by $2,000 from 
the King of Portugal and local subscriptions. 


In 1868, with the help of subscriptions from the com- 
munity, along with the munificent gift of $9,000 received 
from the Portuguese Government, the Parochial House 
underwent extensive repairs, and two transepts were 
added to the Church. 

A long-felt want in this mission was supplied in 1879, 
when Father Jose Pedro Sta Anna da Cunha estab- 
lished, in a small house in Middle Road, a school for 
children of both sexes called St. Anna's School, 
which later, in 1886, was moved into a new building 
erected in the precincts of the church compound and 
named St. Anthony's Boys' and Girls' School, the 
local Government contributing a grant of $4,000 towards 
its expenses. 

In November 1893 the boys' school was separated 
from the girls' school, which had a staff of lady teachers 
of its own, and was under the control of the Fathers of 
the Portuguese Mission up to 1 894, when the Canossian 
Nuns arrived from Macao and took over, and have 
since remained in sole charge of it. The present com- 
bined average enrolment of the two mission schools is 
640 pupils in the lower and higher elementary classes. 

In 1886 His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, by his con- 
stitution '^HumanaeSalutis Auctor," and by a Concordata 
with the King of Portugal (subsequently confirmed by 
a decree dated the 20th August 1887), severed the 
Portuguese Mission in the Straits from the Archbishopric 
of Goa and incorporated it in the Diocese of Macao ; 
the Bishop of Macao thenceforward holds personal, and 
not territorial, jurisdiction over his subjects in Singapore 
and Malacca ; the churches and other edifices con- 
nected with them are at the same time classed in the 
category of " exempted," i.e. completely independent 
of the jurisdiction of the territorial Bishop. 

The increase in the numbers of the Portuguese Mission 
followed pari passu with the progress and development 
of the new Settlement, and thus in 1890 the modest 
Httle church built by Father V. de Santa Catharina being 
found no longer to suffice for such a large and ever- 


increasing congregation, it was decided to build a more 
spacious one, but the subscriptions did not warrant 
taking the work in hand soon. When, however, the 
Bishop of Macao, Dom Joao PauHno d'Azevedo e 
Castro, made his first pastoral visit to Singapore in 1904, 
the subject was again revived and discussed, and His 
Lordship, in full sympathy with the cause, laid the 
foundation-stone of a new church on the 21st August 
of that same year. 

In 1906 the old church was pulled down and the con- 
struction of the new taken in hand. Notwithstanding the 
great and many difficulties arising especially from the 
lack of funds for a work of such magnitude, the new and 
imposing Church of St. Joseph, measuring 212 feet in 
length and 60 feet across the nave, capable of seating 
with ease 1,500 persons, with a central octagonal tower 
surmounted by a dome and flanked by two smaller 
towers, was at last blessed and opened on the 30th June 
191 2. The congregations, thankful for the invaluable 
assistance received from Bishop Castro, who died in 
Macao on the 17th February 191 8, and to whose untiring 
efforts is due the successful completion of the new 
church, have decided to erect in his honour a brass 
memorial tablet, which will soon be fixed in a prominent 
part of the church. 

Connected with the Portuguese Mission, and known 
as " St. Anthony's Bread," is a charitable association 
also founded by the late Bishop in 1904, which has 
during the last fourteen years saved many an indigent 
family from distress. About sixty poor families receive 
regular monthly supplies of rice and money (some also 
house-rent and medical treatment) from the funds of 
the Association. 

The Cathohc population of the parish of St. Joseph 
in Singapore numbers at present nearly 3,000, under the 
care and charge of three priests, one of whom is the 
Superior and Vicar-General. An interesting feature of 
this parish is the language spoken, which is a dialect 
called " Malacca Portuguese," brought by the early 


n. 258] 


immigrants from Malacca, and used by all, without dis- 
tinction, in their homes. The preaching in church is 
also in Portuguese at the Low, and in EngHsh at the 
High Mass on Sundays. 

The Armenian Church 

The first services of the Armenian Church in Singapore 
were held in 1 821, in a room behind where John Little 
and Co. now is, and later on in a room where Powell 
and Co. now stands. The first priest was the Rev. 
Eleazar Ingorgohe. 

In 1835, a site at the corner of Coleman Street and 
Hill Street having been granted by the Government, 
the present building was erected to the design of Mr. 
G. D. Coleman. It cost a httle over $5,000, the money 
being subscribed by Armenians in Calcutta, Java, and 
Singapore, as well as by some of the European residents 
in the Colony. The building was consecrated on the 
26th March 1836, being the anniversary of St. Gregory, 
the first monk of the Armenian Church, and was dedi- 
cated to that saint. This church has thus the distinc- 
tion of being the oldest ecclesiastical building in the city. 

Until about twenty-five years ago the church was 
maintained entirely by monthly voluntary subscrip- 
tions from the congregation. As, however, the Ar- 
menians were a fluctuating section of the community, 
there was the fear that a time might come when these 
monthly subscriptions would prove insufficient to defray 
the expenses of the church. It was therefore proposed 
by the late Mr. Galistan Edgar, a rich and prominent 
Armenian resident, that an endowment fund be estab- 
lished ; and he suggested that Armenians contribute 
a certain percentage (say 2 per cent.) of their incomes 
to it. The suggested system was not carried out, but 
voluntary donations came in liberally, and now the en- 
dowment produces a monthly income almost sufficient 
to meet the priest's salary and other expenses. It is 
hoped that in a few years time the church will be 
entirely self-supporting from this method. Mr. Thadeus 


Paul and the late Mr. T. Sarkies (of Raffles Hotel) worked 
hard to make this fund a success. 

The affairs of the church are managed by a committee, 
consisting of the warden and two trustees, elected by the 
congregation once every two years, and all the church 
property is vested in them. The church maintains a 
priest and a verger, and bears all the expenses for the 
upkeep of the church and the priest's house. The priest 
is sent out by the Armenian Archbishop of Persia and 
India, who has his ecclesiastical see in Julfa, Ispahan, 
Persia, and has jurisdiction over all the Armenian 
churches in India and the regions beyond. The juris- 
diction was granted to him by the Catholics when the 
Armenians began to emigrate to India and the Far 
East, and estabUshed churches in Calcutta, Decca, 
Madras, Bombay, and other places. The priest in Singa- 
pore is usually sent out for a term of three years, but 
at the request of the congregation this term is very 
often extended. 

The priest's house is in the church compound, and 
part of it is devoted to the occupation of poor Armenians 
passing through Singapore. The building formerly 
occupied as priest's quarters had become too old and 
too small for its purpose ; and in 1905 Mrs. Sarkies, 
the widow of the late Mr. John Sarkies, a rich merchant 
of Singapore and Java, very generously offered to erect 
a new building at her own expense. The old quarters 
were consequently demolished and replaced by the 
present fine new building, which has added greatly 
to the comfort of the priest. It was opened on the 1 5th 
September 1905, and consecrated to the memory of 
the late Mr. John S. Sarkies. A marble commemora- 
tion tablet in the Armenian language is on the wall of 
the hall of the building. 

Early in 1909 the church and priest's quarters were 
fitted with electric light and fans, the whole cost being 
borne by Mr. Seth Paul, a partner in the firm of Messrs. 
Stephen Paul and Co. This was the first church in 
Singapore to have an electric installation. 


Presbyterianism in Singapore 
i the church 

In the early years of the Colony, Presbyterians, 
who have always formed an important section of the 
European community, worshipped with Episcopalians 
in the mission chapel of the London Missionary Society 
at the corner of Bras Basah Road (then called Church 
Street) and North Bridge Road, opposite the present 
Raffles Girls' School. The services were conducted 
by the resident missionaries, by visiting clergymen, 
and later, by the Government Chaplain. In 1834, 
when it was proposed to erect an Episcopal church 
worthy of the Colony, and for which the Government 
had provided a site, Presbyterians gave substantial 
support to the scheme. 

In November 1846 the Scotsmen of the Colony, 
among whom were representatives of the three leading 
denominations of the homeland — Established Church, 
Free Church, and United Presbyterian Church — at a 
numerous and harmonious meeting resolved to get a 
minister for European work from any of the Scottish 
churches. The meeting also passed a resolution assur- 
ing the Chaplain (Rev. Mr. Moule) that the step they 
were taking was not to be interpreted as dissatisfaction 
with him, but as preference for their own denomi- 
nation. The inference is that Presbyterians were 
accustomed at that time to attend the worship in St. 
Andrew's Church. The newspapers gave friendly sup- 
port to the scheme, assuring Presbyterians that members 
of the Church of England would show towards them 
the same liberality as they had shown when St. Andrew's 
Church was being built. 

It was ten years before this resolution bore fruit, 
the reason probably being that the strain on the home 
churches consequent on the disruption of 1 843 precluded 
them from responding to the appeal from this distant 
colony. Local Presbyterians were not numerous 
enough to undertake the adequate support of a minister 


themselves ; and, unlike Episcopalians, they have 
never had Government assistance in the payment of 
their clergy. As compensation, however, for the loss 
of Government aid, the Presbyterian Church has liberty 
to select its ministers from the Free Churches as well as 
the Established Church of the homeland. 

The subject was revived in 1854, when a committee 
was appointed to raise the necessary funds and secure 
a pastor. The Rev. Dr. Guthrie, whose praise was in 
all the churches of that day, and whose name has been 
long a household word in Scotland, by special request 
selected the first minister, and since his arrival in 1856 
there has been a regular succession of services until the 
present day. 

The following are the successive ministers of the 
church and their term of tenure of the pastorate : 
Rev. T. Mackenzie Eraser, M.A. (1856-60) ; Rev. John 
Mathison (1861-6) ; Rev. W. Jeffrey (1866-9) 
Rev. Matthew J. Copland (1870-71) ; Rev. WilHam 
Dale (1871-5) ; Rev. William Aitken, M.A. (1876-83) 
Rev. A. S. McPhee, B.D. (1883-9) ; Rev. G. M. Reith 
M.A. (1889-96) ; Rev. S. S. Walker, M.A. (i 896-1 906) 
Rev. J. A. Gray, M.A. (1906-9) ; Rev. W. Runciman 
M.A. (1909-13); Rev. John Vance, M.A. (1914) 
Rev. William Cross, M.A. (191 5-19). 

When Presbyterian services commenced, the use of 
the temporary Residency Chapel was kindly conceded 
to the congregation by the local Government. Later, 
they were held in the L.M.S. Chapel, in Bras Basah 
Road. In 1866 the Presbyterian Church bought the 
property from the L.M.S., and continued to use it till 
1876, when it was sold. For a while services were 
held in the Town Hall, and in 1878 the present church 
in Stamford Road was erected on a site donated by the 

In the course of its career the Presbyterian Church 
has been the recipient of some benefactions, (i) In 
1879 Mr. Thomas Dunman, the Commissioner of 
Pohce, made a gift of land known as D unman 's Corner, 


at the junction of Bras Basah Road and North Bridge 
Road, on a part of which stands Bethesda and the Chinese 
Gospel House. The lease is for a term of 999 years 
from 1827, and it is sub-leased to various tenants for 
ninety-nine years from 1859. (2) In 1887 a fine organ 
was presented by Mr. Thomas Cuthbertson in memory 
of his wife. (3) In 1892 Mr. John Baxter, Lloyd's 
Marine Surveyor, a native of Port Glasgow, and a well- 
known character in the Colony, bequeathed money for 
the purchase of the Manse in Cavenagh Road. (4) In 
1905 a legacy of $3,200 was received from Dato Meldrum, 
of Johore. (5) In 19 10 a generous friend, who does 
not wish his name disclosed, made a gift of $2,000 in 
4 J per cent. Municipal Debenture Stock. 

The property of the church was held by trustees 
under the Presbyterian Church Ordinance of 1876 
until 1899, when it was incorporated by law in the 
person of the Treasurer for the time being. 

Until 1872 the church had only a nominal connection 
with the home churches, but from that date it has been 
affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of England, and 
is enrolled as a congregation of the Presbytery of London 
(North). The Presbyterian Church of England is in 
close federal relation with the Scottish Churches, and 
inasmuch as Singapore merchants on being transferred 
home invariably settle in London, it was considered 
advisable to be attached to the London Presbytery, 
so that the congregation here might still be in touch 
with them, and have them to represent its interests in 
the Church Courts. 

During the course of its history, Congregationalists, 
Baptists, and Methodists have formed no inconsiderable 
part of the congregation ; and some have been pro- 
minent office-bearers. Thus, the Presbyterian Church 
has in a measure occupied in Singapore a place analogous 
to that of the Union Church in Hongkong or Shanghai. 

At the present time the church has entered upon an 
actively aggressive career. It has purchased a site 
for extension work in the rising suburb of Keppel 
II— 18 


Harbour, and initiated services in Malacca and the 
State of Johore, besides rendering aid in the planting 
of a new church in Kuala Lumpur. 

Among many who have rendered in their lifetime 
conspicuous service to the church as office-bearers, 
but have now passed away from us, mention should 
be made of Colonel Dunlop, J. Guthrie Davidson, 
Alex. Johnston, W. Grigor Taylor, W. McKerrow, 
Andrew Currie, Charles PhilHps, and Arthur Knight. 
The last-named died in 1916, having a record of fifty- 
six years' membership of the church and thirty-six 
years in the office of Secretary to the Board of Managers. 


The Presbyterian congregation from the first year 
of its existence has taken a practical share in missionary 
efforts. In 1856 it maintained Tan See Boo, one of 
the first converts in China by the Rev. W. C. Burn, 
as a catechist. It is interesting to note that the house 
for this catechist was provided by the Episcopal con- 
gregation. This was because an attempt was made at 
that time to have a united Chinese Church, and the 
converts were baptised alternately by the ministers 
of the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches ; but the 
plan did not succeed, and two Chinese congregations 
were eventually formed. Besides working in the city 
itself, the catechist associated himself with the Rev. 
B. P. Keasberry in opening a preaching station at 
Bukit Timah. 

In 1 861 the Rev. Alex. Grant, M.A., a Presbyterian 
missionary from Amoy, came here for work. But in 
1 866 he and Tan See Boo both resigned their connection 
with the Presbyterian Church, and founded the Brethren's 
Mission. The congregation also interested itself in the 
Rev. B. P. Keasberry 's work among Chinese immigrants. 
Straits Chinese, Tamils, and Malays, and on his death in 
1875 the Rev. Wilham Young, a former Presbyterian 
missionary in Amoy, took over his work, and continued 
it for ten years, supporting himself by teaching. Mr. 


Young during these years was a member and office- 
bearer in the Presbyterian Church. 

In 1872, when the congregation joined the Presby- 
terian Church of England, it petitioned the Foreign 
Mission Committee of that church for a European 
missionary for Chinese work, and the petition was strongl}^ 
supported by the missionaries of the E.P. Church in 
Amoy and Swatow, the districts from which most of 
the Chinese immigrants came. Also, in 1879, the con- 
gregation formally took over work at Bukit Timah. 
At length, in 1881, the Foreign Missions Committee 
appointed the Rev. J. A. B. Cook to work here among 
the Chinese, and he has been so engaged ever since. 

When Mr. and Mrs. Cook arrived, the small Chinese 
congregation at Bukit Timah of thirty-nine members 
was the only missionary work directly connected with 
the Presbyterian Church. But the work began to spread . 
Churches were opened in the districts of Tek-kha, Tan- 
jong Pagar, and Serangoon in 1883 J in Johore in 1885 \ 
in Muar in 1893 ; i^i Paya Lebar in 1904 ; and in Seletar 
in 1908. Moreover, in 1885 the Rev. W. Young left 
Singapore, and handed over to Mr. Cook the work in 
Prinsep Street Church, which was mostly among Malay- 
speaking and Enghsh-speaking Chinese. The mission 
has now a membership of 500 communicants, or 900 
including baptised children. One-half of its ten con- 
gregations are self-supporting. In 1904 H.E. Sir John 
Anderson laid the foundation-stone of the church in 
Tanjong Pagar Road, which has become under the Rev. 
Tay Sek Tin a centre of important social service for 
the Hokkien community. 

Other workers have been associated with Mr. and 
Mrs. Cook for longer or shorter periods from time to 
time. In 1890 the Rev. A. Lamont, M.A., B.D., was 
appointed to work among the Hokkien community, 
Mr. Cook's work being among the Teo-Chews. He 
opened the Eastern school in 1 894, which promised to be 
the commencement of important educational work. 
When Mr. Lamont left the Colony in 1897, Mr. H. F. 


Rankin, M.A., was placed in charge ; but three years 
later Mr. Rankin became Principal of the Anglo-Chinese 
College in Amoy, and the work of the Eastern school 
was given up. The Rev. W. Murray was ajppointed in 
1902 for work among the Straits Chinese community, 
and still continues it. Others who have assisted in the 
Mission from time to time are Revs. H. L. Mackenzie, 
D. Sutherland, J. Steele, and C. V. Moody, and the 
Misses Macmahon and Lecky. 

More than passing reference should be made to the 
Straits Chinese congregation which worships in Prinsep 
Street Church. The building, which dates from 1842, 
was the scene of the labours of the Rev. B. P. Keasberry, 
for many long years the only Protestant missionary in 
the Colony. There is a catholic atmosphere about the 
place, for its walls contain memorial tablets to Congre- 
gationalists. Episcopalians, and Presbyterians who wor- 
shipped and worked together there. The founder of the 
Straits Chinese congregation here may be said to have 
been Song Hoot Kiam, who was one of the first six con- 
verts of modern Protestant missions from among the 
Chinese. He was a pupil of Dr. Legge in Malacca, and was 
taken home by his teacher to school in Huntly, Aberdeen- 
shire, where he was baptised. Returning to the East, he 
settled in Singapore in 1847, ^^^ was an earnest Chris- 
tian worker till his death in 1900, at the age of seventy. 
His children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are 
still pillars of the church. Other conspicuous leaders in 
this congregation have been Mr. Tan Kong Wee and 
Mr. Foo Teng Quee, the latter being head of the Hylam 
community for many years. The congregation has 
always had, and still has, among its members gifted 
preachers. The Malay hymn-book used in the services 
is the joint work of the Rev. B. P. Keasberry and Mr. 
Charles Phillips. Mr. PhilHps was an accomplished 
Malay speaker, and for many years, until his death in 
1904, helped in the services. In 1 881 the Presbyterian 
Mission acquired the property, and took over the super- 
vision of this historic congregation. A Chinese preacher's 


house has been erected in the compound, and regular 
services in Chinese added to those in Malay and English 
each Sunday. In 1904 the Straits Chinese erected a 
Widows' and Orphans' Home adjoining the church, and 
also a hall for meetings of the Chinese Christian Associa- 
tion, which has been carrying on useful work in the 
community since 1896. 

The Methodist Episcopal Church and Mission 

In 1884 the Methodist Episcopal Church, which had 
large missionary operations in India and China, resolved 
to open work in Singapore, with a view to extension 
later to the Malay Peninsula. Although no mission 
funds were available for the enterprise, Dr. Thoburn, the 
foremost missionary of the Church in India, did not feel 
thereby deferred from entering so promising a field, 
but believed such work as they contemplated would 
not fail for want of local support. With the Rev. W. F. 
Oldham, he arrived in Singapore, and held a series of 
meetings in the Town Hall in February 1885. Not only 
did the two pioneers meet with a considerable measure of 
sympathy from members of the Christian community and 
the active support of such of them as were Methodists, 
but also people of various nationalities gathered to the 
meetings, and being stirred by the Gospel message 
became enquirers and candidates for church membership. 
After a stay of three weeks. Dr. Thoburn returned to 
India, leaving his colleague in sole charge of the work. 
Mr. Oldham was a keen educationist, and won the 
sympathy quickly of Chinesemerchants who were anxious 
for education for their children. He and Mrs. Oldham 
opened a school, which became rapidly self-supporting. 
Chinese, Tamils, Malays, Eurasians, and Europeans 
came as the pupils, and out of this educational work there 
arose opportunities for evangelistic work, which were 
eagerly used. 

The work which then began has developed to enor- 
mous proportions. It has spread to Penang, Malacca, 
the Federated Malay States, the Dutch East Indies, and 


Borneo. But for the purpose of this history we confine 
attention to its activities in Singapore. 

(i) Education. — ^The Anglo-Chinese School began with 
thirty-six boys, and under a series of energetic principals, 
Oldham, Kelso, Banks, Lyons, Buchanan, Pease, Mansel, 
and Nagle, has gone from strength to strength, until now 
it has an enrolment of i,8oo scholars, including branch 
schools which have been opened in recent years in 
Serangoon, Gaylang, and Paya Lebar districts. A new 
and large development is now taking place in the creation 
of a college f(3r higher education, for which a site at 
Keppel Harbour has been secured, and of which the plans 
are already advanced. Besides the schools for boys, two 
for girls have been established. Short Street and Fair- 

(2) Evangelism. — Soon after his arrival in Singapore 
the Christian Institute in Middle Road was handed over 
to Mr. Oldham, and has become the centre of work among 
the Straits Chinese. Services in Tamil and Chinese have 
been estabhshed in other parts of the city. Several 
institutions have also been, opened, and have become 
effective evangelistic agencies : Oldham Hall, a boarding 
establishment for boys ; the Nind Home, a boarding 
establishment for girls, and a centre for woman's work 
of many kinds ; and the Bible- Women's Training School. 

(3) The Publishing House. — It was early seen that there 
would be a great demand for religious literature in 
many languages for use in the cosmopolitan community 
of the Colony and Malaysia, and, therefore, a printing- 
press was reckoned a necessity. The pioneer worker 
in this department has been the Rev. W. G. Shellabear, 
D.D. He came to Singapore as an officer in the Royal 
Engineers to work at the harbour defences, and, being 
deeply religious, was much distressed by the ignorance 
of Christianity among the native communities. He 
resigned his commission, in spite of the remonstrances 
of friends, and threw himself into the work which the 
Methodists were beginning. On the advice of Mr. 
Oldham he went to England, and studied the art of 

REV. DR. she;i,i.abear. 

n. 268] 


printing. Returning in 1890, he began the work of the 
Methodist Press, which has since grown to large pro- 
portions. Nearly a hundred men are now employed 
by it, and literature in about twelve languages issued 
from it. Mr. Shellabear made a special study of 
languages, and produced much of the literature which the 
press printed. His vocabularies, dictionaries, text- 
books, translations of hymns and other religious works 
are widely used. Quite recently, by arrangement with 
the British and Foreign Bible Society, he has issued a 
version of the New Testament in Baba Malay, and he is 
now engaged on a similar translation of the Old Testa- 
ment. By this press the Rev. W. G. Shellabear, and his 
successor in the office of Superintendent (Rev. W. T. 
Cherry), have done a memorable service to all the 
churches and missions of the Colony. 

' (4) Wesley Church. — From the beginning of the Mission 
regular services in English have been held. In 1886 
a church and manse were built on land granted by the 
Government in Coleman Street. The church was opened 
in January 1887, and continued in use till 1909, when the 
building was taken for the increasing work of the school, 
and a new church and manse were built in Fort Canning 
Road, the land being a grant from Government. 

The name of the Rev. W. F. Oldham, D.D., will ever 
be associated with the ' history of the Colony. Of 
European parentage, he was born and brought up in 
India, and in his youth was on the staff of the survey 
service of the Indian Government. After his conversion 
he and his wife resolved to devote themselves to mission- 
ary work, and went to America to complete their 
education. On their return to India the Methodist 
Church selected them to begin the work in Singapore. 
Arriving here, he speedily won influence with all sections 
of the community by his pubhc spirit, broad-mindedness, 
unceasing activity, and his fluency in thought and speech . 
The Chinese were eager to have him as tutor for them- 
selves and their children, and freely supported him with 
money for his educational and even religious enter- 


prises. Among these Mr. Tan Keong Saik and Mr. 
Tan Jiak Kim were conspicuous. After laying the 
foundations in Singapore of Methodist missions, 
which have spread now over the adjoining mainland 
and islands, he was chosen a Bishop of the church, with 
the oversight of work in India, Malaya, the Archipelago, 
and the Philippines. Lately he has been appointed to 
the oversight of Methodist missions in South America. 

The name of Miss Blackmore will also never be for- 
gotten in connection with the work. An Australian 
by birth, she gave herself to a missionary career under 
the influence of an American lady evangelist, and arrived 
in India in that lady's company at the time when the 
new field in Singapore was being opened. An appeal 
for women workers for Singapore had been sent to 
America, and roused the enthusiasm of Mrs. Mary Nind, 
of Minnesota, who pledged the ladies of her State for the 
planting of a mission to Singapore women. Thus the 
worker and her work were simultaneously provided. 
She arrived in 1887, and one of the local newspapers 
welcomed her in these words : " The Methodist 
Mission has done already during its brief existence among 
us such a large amount of good work among hitherto 
neglected classes of the community that any increase 
in its well-being will be hailed with satisfaction by the 
friends of enlightenment-" {Straits Times , 27th July 
1887). Ill organising house-to-house visitation and 
opening schools for girls she found a big field for work. 
She also established a boarding-school for girls (known 
as the Nind Home), which crowns the summit of Mt. 
Sophia. Some ninety girls are boarded there, while in 
the two large day schools several hundreds are being 
educated. She has completed a long term of thirty 
years' work in the city, and her name is a household word 
in the Colony. 

The following dates indicate the steady and rapid 
development of Methodist missions here : 

1885. Malaysia Mission founded. 

1889. Malaysia Mission organised. 


1893. Malaysia Mission Conference organised. 

1902. Malaysia Annual Conference organised. 

1905. Philippine Islands District divided from 
Malaysia Annual Conference. 

191 8. Dutch East Indies District divided from Malay- 
sia Annual Conference. 

The present administrator of the Malaysia Mission is 
Bishop J. E. Robinson, D.D., who was associated with 
it as a visiting official in its earlier days. The Mission 
has, through its entire area, nearly 5,000 members, 
exclusive of adherents, and enrols almost 10,000 pupils 
in its day schools. For a more detailed history of the 
Methodist Mission reference should be made to Bishop 
Thoburn's India and Malaysia and Bishop Oldham's 
Malaysia, Nature^s Wonderland. 


On the 3rd July 1 864, in the Mission Rooms, Bencoolen 
Street, the inception of the Gospel work now carried on in 
Bethesda took place. The interesting record of that 
inception is written in the Church Register, from which 
we quote : "A few believers who had been led to see 
the duty as well as privilege of assembling together on 
the first day of the week after the manner of the earliest 
churches planted by the Apostles, viz. for the breaking 
of bread, and Christian worship, were meeting privately 
for these exercises. Seeing, however, that such a 
gathering, profitable though it might be for their own 
souls, could not be a sufficient witness for Christ in 
showing forth His death to others, or give an opportunity 
of preaching the Gospel to those who have not already 
embraced it, and which is the bounden duty of every 
Christian church, they were led to seek the opening of a 
place of worship where these desiderata could be enjoyed. 
Believing that ,the revealed and inspired Word of God is 
a sufficient rule not only for faith but practice, they 
formed no written creed, trusting by the Spirit of God 
to be led into all truth, and desiring to be known among 


men by no other name than Christians ; meeting thus 
simply as beUevers in Christ, they have maintained 
that the spiritual ordinances are only to be received by 
spiritual persons, and that the number of these spiritual 
ones may be increased by God's divinely appointed way 
of preaching the Gospel." During the first year nearly 
two hundred meetings were held, they being variously 
attended, sometimes crowded to the doors, while at other 
times it had literally been but the *' two or three 
gathered together." 

A Sunday School was established with success. In 
1866 it became apparent that the Mission Rooms in 
Bencoolen Street were inadequate for the assembly's 
purpose, and so it was decided to build a meeting-place. 
And on Lord's day, the 30th September 1866, the new 
hall, Bethesda, was opened in Bras Basah Road at 
6.30 a.m. by a special season of. prayer. The church 
record says that Bethesda was lit with gas on the 20th 
February 1867. 

Within a few months of the opening of Bethesda, 
namely about May 1867, the building was found to be 
inconveniently small for the congregation, and it was 
proposed to enlarge it forthwith, increasing the seating 
capacity from about sixty to about a hundred and fifty. 
This enlargement was speedily accomplished, much to 
the satisfaction of the congregation. In June 1867 
much interest was shown in the baptism of a Malay. 

In the course of a few years Bethesda, which had 
been built of wood, fell a prey to white ants, and was 
before long quite unusable for services. The believers, 
forced by these circumstances from their meeting- place, 
found a home in the Hok Im Koan, i.e. the Chinese 
Gospel House, North Bridge Road. It is a matter of 
interest to note some of the names of those who were 
amongst the first members of Bethesda, and also of 
those who were associated in the ministry of the Gospel : 
Mr. and Mrs. Phihp Robinson (Mr. Robinson was the 
founder of the firm of Robinson and Co., Raffles Place) ; 
Mr. J. L. Wheatley, Assistant to the Colonial Medical 



n. 272] 


Department, and later in the Johore Medical Depart- 
ment (in later years he became surgeon in s.s. Hong Moh, 
and died at sea on the 20th July 1909) ; Mr. and Mrs. 
WilKam MacDonald, of Johore Bahru, who subsequently 
Hved and laboured for years in Penang ; Mr. Alexander 
Grant, M.A. (of Amoy) ; Mr. John Haffenden, who 
in 1882 became agent for the British and Foreign Bible 
Society ; Captain E. Buckley Tarn ; Lieutenant Key, of 
H.M.S. Coquette, who often preached the Gospel in those 
early days with Mr. Charles Phillips, who was then in 
the Army ; Staff-Commander Bowen, R.N., and Major C. 
Hailes, who both rendered valuable aid. In 1867 Major 
Malan was a great help in the ministry of the Scriptures. 
And in 1 882 we find Major Carew helping in the preaching. 

For a few years nothing but a broken gate and a few 
courses of bricks marked the spot of Bethesda 
Meeting Hall. In the fall of 1 889 a party of missionaries 
specially commended for the work in Singapore set sail 
from England ; this new party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. 
Honywill, Mr. Alfred R. Thorburn, and Miss Hosegood. 
It was decided by the church, soon after the arrival of 
these new missionaries, that Mr. Honywill should give 
himself to the English-speaking work, whilst Mr. Thorburn 
should take up Chinese. Within a short while Mr. 
Thorburn sailed for Amoy to study Chinese, whilst Mr. 
Honywill strenuously set himself to work amongst the 
English-speaking people. The plans for a new Bethesda 
were prepared ; this time the building was to be sub- 
stantially built of brick with iron beams. Mr. Honywill 
was fortunate in having the valued help of Mr. Andrew 
Light Koenitz (chief book-keeper to McAhster and Co.), 
who had been a most faithful and diligent helper to the 
church for many years ; and Mr. J. Clement Cuff, of the 
Telegraph Company, also proved a valuable helper. 

On the 17th January 1892 Bethesda new building 
was opened by a week of special prayer, and from that 
date to the present time the services and missionary work 
have gone on most successfully. A year or so later the 
Bethesda Mission House was erected at the back 


of Bethesda. This house is an addition to the Mission 
House in Neil Road, which was built and opened in 

The Jewish Synagogue 

The first Jewish synagogue was a small building in 
Synagogue Street, erected in the 'Forties, and having 
only thirty or forty seats. It soon became too small. 
Some time in the 'Sixties the Trustees of Raffles School 
approached Mr. J. R. Joshua, the uncle of Mr. Manasseh 
Meyer, and asked him to contribute towards the exten- 
sion of Raffles School. They required $4,000, and Mr. 
Joshua offered to pay the whole amount if they could 
give him a piece of land sufficiently large for the building 
of a synagogue. This was agreed upon, the money was 
paid, and the title was given with the proviso that the 
proposed synagogue had to be built within three years. 
Unfortunately circumstances changed, and Mr. Joshua 
left the Colony : and there being no energetic man to 
ask for subscriptions or collect money from the Jewish 
community, the stipulated period elapsed without the 
building being erected. So the land reverted to the 

When Mr. Manasseh Meyer, after a stay of eight 
years in India, returned to Singapore in 1873 to estab- 
lish his business here, he found the synagogue unfit for 
divine service, not only because of its dilapidated 
condition, but also because the vicinity was over- 
crowded and filthy. He therefore approached Mr. 
Braddell, grandfather of the present Mr. Roland 
Braddell, and who was Attorney-General at the time, 
with a request that the Government allow the Jews to 
sell the synagogue in Synagogue Street, and erect 
another on a more suitable site. The request was 
granted. A site was obtained in Waterloo Street, and 
a new synagogue erected. It was opened for service 
on the 4th April 1878. Later on galleries for ladies 
and other improvements were added by Mr. Meyer. 
By the year 1902 this synagogue had become too small 


for the increasing community, and Mr. Meyer, having 
hired a house in Short Street for temporary use, pro- 
ceeded to build a new synagogue in Oxley Rise at his 
own cost. It was completed in 1905. Both synagogues 
are now in use, and are practically full on holy days. 

The Chinese Gospel House (Hok Im Koan) 

In the year 1866 a number of earnest Chinese Chris- 
tians were greatly exercised in heart, like their English- 
speaking brethren in the Mission Rooms, Bencoolen 
Street. And so a piece of land adjoining Bethesda 
was purchased, and very soon they began to build a 
meeting-house. The Christians in Bethesda resolved 
that the collections on the 20th January 1867 
be devoted to assist in this building. This was done, 
many other special oiTerings were made by the church 
in Bethesda in assisting their Chinese brethren, and 
it was suggested that Bethesda Hall should be used 
by the Christian believers till their own meeting-place 
was ready for occupation. This offer they gladly 
accepted, and it is worth noting that for many years 
the English-speaking assembly in Bethesda and the 
Chinese assembly in the Gospel House met together 
on alternate weeks, and then, after a time, monthly, 
for the breaking of bread on the first day of the week. 

On Wednesday, the 8th May 1867, Mr. Tan See Boo. 
an earnest Christian, who had been engaged for a 
number of years as a catechist, but about eight months 
before had resigned his connection with the Mission, and 
has since been successfully engaged in building up a 
church of Chinese Christians and preaching the Gospel, 
was, with five others of his own countrymen, baptised 
by Mr. Chapman, the missionary colleague of Mr. 
William MacDonald, of Penang. This meeting was 
conducted in the English, Chinese, and Malay languages. 
So far as is known, these were the first converts ever 
baptised by immersion in these Settlements. 

On the nth August 1867 Mr. Alexander Grant, 
M.A., with Mrs. Grant, came to reside in Singapore, 


and his coming proved to be a great stimulus to the 
Chinese assembly. It was in this year that the Chinese 
Gospel House (which is a hall or chapel) was erected 
and occupied by the Chinese Christians. Messrs. Tan 
See Boo, Soo Hoo Ah Tak, Gan Kui, Chong Ghee 
Loong, Png Puah, and others were men of spiritual 

About thirty-three years of successful mission work 
were accomplished in this Chinese hall. Somewhere 
about the year 1895 the old Gospel House was found 
to be in a very dilapidated and dangerous condition. 
The Chinese met together on the 3rd October 1899 to 
consider the urgent need of repairs, and the suggested 
alterations. At this meeting it was unanimously agreed 
to leave the repairs and alterations entirely in the hands 
of Mr. Alfred R. Thorburn. It was found exceedingly 
difficult to alter a building quaintly built in Chinese 
style into a useful hall. Mr. Claud La Brooy (who was 
then a young man just starting in life as an architect 
and surveyor, now a contractor of Ipoh) proved himself 
equal to the task, and produced suitable plans. The 
Chinese Gospel House (which had been practically 
rebuilt) was opened on Tuesday, the 20th February 
1900, with a conversational fellowship tea, and about 1 50 
friends were present. 

From the opening of this new building, on the 20th Feb- 
ruary 1900, to this present date services have been held 
regularly, and the Hok Im Koan is still a distinctive 
landmark along the main thoroughfare of Singapore. 

The Chinese Gospel Hall, Upper Serangoon Road 

This hall was opened on the 2nd October 1909. It is 
situated about half a mile from the main road. Ser- 
vices are held regularly, with a good average attendance. 


The following publications have been of special use 
in compiling this chapter, in addition to newspaper 
files and church reports : 


Malcolm's (Rev. H.) Travels in South-Eastern Asia, 
Buckley's Anecdotal History. 
Cook's (Rev. J. A. B.) Sunny Singapore, 
Thoburn's (Bishop) India and Malaysia. 
Oldham's (Bishop) Malaysia, Nature's Wonderland. 

The following sections of the chapter have been 
specially contributed : The Church of England, by the 
Bishop of Singapore ; The Roman Catholic Church, by 
arrangement with the Rev. N. J. Couvreur ; The 
Bethesda Chapel and Mission, by Pastor A. R. Thorburn. 
The section on the Methodist Church and Mission has 
been revised by the Rev. W. T. Cherry, Presiding Elder 
for the Singapore District. Information about the 
Armenian Church has been supplied by Mr. Mack S. 
Arathoon, and that about the Jewish Synagogue by 
Mr. Manasseh Meyer. 

Of recent years the Seventh-Day Adventists have 
built a chapel in Penang Lane, where services are held 
in Malay, Chinese, and English. They also have opened 
an English school. But this work is of too recent 
formation to merit detail in a history of the century. 



By Walter Makepeace 

The Press 

The Singapore Chronicle was the first newspaper pub- 
lished in Singapore, estabhshed in 1824 by Mr. Frederick 
James Bernard, five years after the founding of the 
Settlement. In order to get permission to publish the 
Chronicle, the first number had to be sent to Bengal. 
The principal contributor to the paper for the first 
two years was Mr. Crawfurd, the Resident, and in 
January 1831 the Chronicle was enlarged to a four-page 
paper, 20 by 12 J inches, published fortnightly. Mr. 
Buckley could find no copy of the paper in Singapore 
in 1885, and was of opinion that none was in existence, 
as the editor in 1833 had been unable to make up his 
file for the first three years. After Mr. Buckley's History 
was pubhshed, it was discovered that Mr. Logan's 
library (now belonging to Government) had early copies 
of the Singapore Chronicle or Commercial Register, 
vol. i, Nos. I to 4, I St January 1824 to ist April 1824, 
being in MSS, also Nos. 8, 9, 11, and 12. They are in 
a volume in the Penang Library, inscribed " A. Logan 
1843, bought at Mr. Moor's sale." 

The older Settlements had, of course, had their 
newspapers. The Prince of Wales's Island Gazette began 
in 1805, and lasted twenty-two years, its successors 
being many and their lives short. The Malacca Observer 
commenced in September 1826, and lasted for three 
years, being also a fortnightl3^ The Malacca Weekly 
Register was in existence in 1839 and 1840, and again 



the old Settlement boasted the Malacca Weekly News in 
August 1872. At this time Malacca had its garrison, 
including white troops, its own Lieutenant-Governor, 
E. M. Shaw, R.N., and Mr. W. E. Maxwell was the 
presiding magistrate. The paper did not last very 
long, and had been extinct for some years in 1884, when 
Mr. Buckley resumed publication of the Singapore Free 
Press, with a special Malacca correspondent. About 
1889 the late Mr. H. B. Collinge, who became Inspector 
of Schools in Perak, made an attempt to resuscitate the 
Malacca newspaper, and had a moderate amount of 
success for a year. It is outside the scope of this article 
to deal with the Press of Penang or the F.M.S., but 
the following list of newspapers will show the progres- 
sive development of journalism in Malaya, where all the 
papers are dependent upon Renter's Telegram Service 
for their daily cables : 

Prince of Wales's Island Gazette, 1805-27, and 

again in 1833. 
Singapore Chronicle, 1824-37. 
Pinang Register and Miscellany, 1827-8. 
Malacca Observer, 1826-9, 1889-90. 
Malacca Weekly Register, 1839-40. 
Malacca Weekly News, 1872. 
Government Gazette of Prince of Wales's Island, 

Singapore and Malacca, 1828-30. 
Singapore Free Press, October 1835. 
Straits Times and Singapore Journal of Commerce, 

Pinang Gazette, 1838 (weekly) ; 1890 (tri-weekly) ; 

1 89 1 (daily). 
Straits Chronicle, 1838 (weekly). 
Straits Echo, 1903. 
Perak Pioneer (Taiping), 1894. 
Malay Mail (Kuala Lumpur), 1896. 
Times of Malaya (Ipoh), 1904. 
Malaya Tribune, 191 5. 

In the early days of the Colony there was a Press 
II— 19 


censorship, but it is not easy to determine what its 
exact scope was. Each issue had to be submitted to 
Government before pubhcation under what was called 
the " Gagging Act/' which was abolished in 1835, when 
the new paper was called the Free Press to mark the 
new era. But, quite apart from the war censorship of 
1 9 14-18, there seems to have been some doubt as to 
the discretion of the Press on the part of the Govern- 
ment, for the earlier reports of the meetings of the 
Legislative Council, 1867-72, were only permitted to 
be published as provided by the Clerk of Councils. The 
minutes took about a fortnight to get into type, and 
the extended report a month. Council met on the 
24th February 1869, " and a smart discussion is reported 
to have taken place regarding the financial statements 
of the Auditor-General. The absurd and, we {Singapore 
Times) believe, illegal standing rule of the Council which 
excluded representatives of the Press prevents our 
giving any particulars." None but official reports 
were allowed to be published. As long as Mr. Crawfurd, 
the first Resident, edited the Chronicle, the Gagging 
Acts caused no inconvenience, but later blank spaces 
showed where the censor had been at work. The 
Singapore Chronicle of 1828 mentions that the censor 
had struck out some items from the Pinang Register of 
the 1 7th September, which the Editor then had printed 
on a separate slip and circulated with the paper, which 
the Singapore Editor thought " a very bold step " — 
which indeed it was, if the slip had no imprint. In 
March 1833 Mr. Bonham, the Resident Councillor, 
wrote to the Editor of the Chronicle that, on his recom- 
mendation, the Supreme Government had sanctioned 
the discontinuance of the Press censorship, and that the 
proof-sheet need not be sent to him any more. The 
Editor's article on the subject quoted an old remark of 
Blackstone that to subject the Press to the restrictive 
powers of a licenser was to make all freedom of sentiment 
liable to the prejudice of one man, and make him the 
arbitrary judge of controverted points. During the 


Indian Mutiny the newspapers of the Straits were 
subject to the rigid restriction imposed by the Govern- 
ment of India to prevent seditious pubhcations. A 
pubhc meeting was held in Singapore in 1857 ^o protest 
against this. The Act ceased in June 1858. Probably 
it was not more oppressive in actual operation than 
was the war censor of the past five years, but freedom 
of speech and freedom of the Press are taken so generally 
as a matter of right by British citizens that the slightest 
attempt to curb them is resented, especially when the 
censorate's idea of the news food of the grown-up man 
is a ragout in which the foundation is so carefully dis- 
guised that it is not recognisable as fish, flesh, fowl, nor 
good red herring. The most unfortunate instance of 
the exercise of the censorate was the action taken in 
February 1 9 1 5 , when the mutiny took place in Singapore, 
and no news was permitted to leave the Colony for a 
week, on the principle, perhaps, that suppressing the 
news meant suppressing the mutiny. 

Returning to the Singapore newspapers, the Free Press 
was started in 1835, and soon proved too much for the 
respectable old Chronicle, which ceased in 1837, ^^^ the 
plant and type were shipped to Penang, where they 
helped to print the Pinang Gazette and Straits Chronicle. 

The Straits Times and Singapore Journal of Commerce 
appeared on the 15th July 1845, the printing material 
having been ordered from England by Mr. M. T. Apcar, 
of Apcar and Stephens ; but he had died in the mean- 
while, and Mr. Gilbert McMicking (of Syme and Co.) was 
the assignee of his estate. Mr. Catchick Moses took over 
the material, and Mr. R. C. Woods, who had come from 
Bombay, was the first Editor, Mr. Moses dropping out 
after a year or two. In the first year it appeared as a 
weekly, then twice a week, folio four pages, went back 
to weekly, in 1 847 again became a bi-weekly, and became 
a daily in 1858, thus having a continuous publication of 
sixty-one years. It has had, at one time and another, 
many publications connected with it. The first Directory 
was issued by Mr. R. C. Woods, the Singapore Monthly 


Circular and Price Current was issued from the office, 
many special and Christmas numbers, and its own weekly 
Straits Budget. Mr. Buckley, under date 1854, after 
giving an account of the " Persecution of Sir James 
Brooke," as Admiral Keppel calls it, condemns the first 
Editor, Mr. R. C. Woods, for being the instigator of the 
calumny " founded on falsehood and strutted up with 
newspaper lies " as " the one big blot on the history of 
Singapore," for which the community were in part to 
blame. However, Mr. Woods was a very prominent 
man, a Municipal Commissioner, and a leading lawyer. 
Mr. John Cameron became Editor of the Straits Times in 
1 861 , at the same time being part proprietor with Captain 
E. M. Smith, one of the early managers of Tanjong 
Pagar Dock Co. Mr. Cameron continued to edit the 
paper till 1867, and lived in Singapore till 1881, dying 
at Monk's Hill. In 1883 the Proprietrix is given as Mrs. 
John Cameron; Editors, " Committee of Subscribers " ; 
Sub-Editor, C. H. Westlake. Mr. John Marshall became 
Editor a year or so later, and Mr. T. C. Cargill, a former 
Municipal Engineer, acted for a short time. There were 
many changes till 1889, when the late Mr. Arnot Reid 
became Editor; he was a well-known personality till 
the I St May 1900, when the concern was turned into a 
limited company and Mr. Reid retired, dying soon after 
in England. Succeeding editors have been Mr. P. M. 
Skinner, Mr. E. A. Morphy, Mr. T. H. Reid (now in the 
Malay States Information Agency in London), and Mr. 
A. W. Still, since 1908. Mr. A. P. Ager, the present 
Manager, was with the Straits Times as long ago as 
1898, first as reporter, then as Assistant Editor and 
Manager. The present Chief Clerk, Mr. Lim Tek Wee, 
has seen thirty years' continuous service with the paper. 
A serious misfortune for the paper was the great fire 
on the 1 7th February 1 869, which totally destroyed the 
records and plant, so that the ** remains " fetched only 
$40 at auction. The office was in the Square, next to 
the Oriental Bank Building — the Free Press is actually 
on the same site now — ^when the Chinese store of Locke, 


Hung Kee and Co. and the newspaper office were entirely 
destroyed. The Straits Times offices were at the corner 
of Robinson Road and Cecil Street, until they acquired 
the site and built their own property at 78 Cecil Street. 

The Singapore Free Press was originally founded in 
1835 by Mr. Wilham Napier, the lawyer ; Mr. Lorrain, 
a merchant who afterwards became a partner in Brown 
and Co., Penang, and the head of Lorrain, Sandilands and 
Co. ; Mr. Edward Boustead ; and Mr. Coleman, the first 
Superintendent of Public Works, who died in Singapore 
in 1 841 , and was buried in Fort Canning Cemetery. Mr. 
Boustead, in addition to his mercantile work, had been 
helping to edit the Singapore Chronicle for some time, 
and when Mr. Carnegy came down from Penang and 
purchased the Chronicle, it was determined to start the 
Free Press, a weekly of four pages, with a commercial 
and shipping page. Mr. William Napier edited the paper 
till 1 846, when he left for home, and Mr. Abraham Logan 
took charge, and was Editor and Proprietor for over 
twenty years, finally settling down in Penang, where 
he died. Mr. Logan was a law agent and notary public, 
and one of the leading lawyers of the place, having Mr. 
Thomas Braddell for his partner in 1862. He was the 
brother of the founder and Editor of the Journal of the 
Indian Archipelago, James Richardson Logan. The 
Singapore Free Press continued as a weekly till 1869, 
when it ceased publication. In 1884, moved by the 
same spirit as the original founders of the Free Press, 
namely that a second newspaper was for the good of the 
place, and that it should not owe its inception to the 
need for profit, Mr. C. B. Buckley got together thirty- 
two subscribers to buy the plant and material of the old 
Free Press, and recommenced publication as a weekly, 
himself doing the editing and contributing papers on the 
history of Singapore, which eventually became the Anec- 
dotal History of Singapore, Mr. Jonas Daniel Vaughan, 
the last Editor of the first series of the Singapore 
Free Press, became a contributor to the new series, and 
continued regularly till his death. Among other promi- 


nent contributors who helped to maintain the personal 
continuity was the venerable W. H. Read, C.M.G., who 
contributed leading articles and letters over his well- 
known signature of ^^ Delta. '' This series of the Free Press 
was a most useful reference work for the history of the 
Settlement, as in it appeared all Mr. Buckley's knowledge 
of the place for twenty years. The weekly was so 
successful that at the beginning of 1887 those most 
interested in it, Mr. C. B. Buckley, Mr. John Fraser, Mr. 
John Cuthbertson, Mr. David Neave, and Mr. T. Shelford, 
put up the money to convert it into a daily. Mr. W. G. 
St. Clair was chosen at home to come out as Editor, and 
arrived about March 1887. Mr. Walter Makepeace was 
engaged as a reporter and assistant, and came down from 
Malacca, where he was then, and the first issue of the 
Singapore Free Press as a daily was on the 1 6th July 1887. 
In 1895 Mr. St. Clair and Mr. Makepeace became the 
proprietors of the paper, and in 19 16, when Mr. St. Clair 
retired, the paper was converted into a private limited 
liability company (of two). Mr. William Craig came 
out to join the staff of the Free Press in 1893, leaving in 
1899 to join the Government service in the Post Office. 
Mr. R. D. Davies came out from Bristol to join the paper 
in I 90 I. 

The third daily paper in Singapore is the Malaya 
Tribune, which was started in 1915. 

There have been other newspapers in Singapore : the 
Eastern Daily Mail (1905-6) ; the Straits Advocate in 
the 'Eighties; the Straits Guardian, 1856, published on 
Saturdays " at the Reporters' Press," also th^ Reporters' 
Advertiser, tri-weekly, gratis ; the Shipping Gazette, 
1858, at the Commercial Press ; the Straits Intelligence, 
1883-6 ; and the Singapore Herald, about the same 

Many vernacular papers have at one time or another 
been printed in Singapore. In 1 888 there was the Tamil 
paper, the Singai Nesan, and the Malay Jawi Peranakan. 
The Chinese papers, the Lat Pan and the Seng Poh, had 
a wide circulation, and the Utusan Malayu, a Malay 


daily in Arabic and romanised Malay, is one of the 
longest lived, having been established in 191 1. 

The Singapore Review and Monthly Magazine com- 
menced in January 1861, and was conducted by E. A. 
Edgerton. Vols. I and II were available for reference 
from the late Mr. Arthur Knight's books. It is a curiously 
varied work, ranging from a review of the trade of the 
Colony and the municipal year 1 860 to a reprint of the 
then popular songs such as " Partant pour la Syrie." 
Much hght is thrown upon the life of these early times. 
Buckley does not mention it, and Dr. Dennys gives it 
the briefest note. It was pubhshed under the super- 
vision of a committee of gentlemen. The first volume 
contains a long paper on " The Trade and Commerce of 
the Eastern Archipelago " by Peter Lund Simmons. He 
mentions three possible sources of coal for Singapore, 
namely Labuan, Sarawak, and Indragiri, the last about 
to be worked by Almeida and Sons — quite prosaic ; but 
in another part there is an article on Malay " Se- 
remba " and " Serapa," varieties of Malay pantuns, from 
which we select one plain and one" highly coloured." 


Derimana datang-nia liniah 
Deri sawah ka-batang padi 
Derimana datang-nia chinta 
Deri mata turun di hati. 

Whence comes the horse-leech ? 
From the wet field to the rice stalk; 
Whence comes love ? 
From the eyes descending to the heart. 


Sulasih alang gomilang 

Kayu hidop di-makan apt 

Kalau kasih, alang kapalang 

Deri hidup batk ka-mati. 

How radiant is the sweet basil. 

Living wood is consumed by fire ; 

If this be love, how intolerable its pains, 

Than life death is to me more desirable. 

Mention has already been made of the Government 
Gazette of Prince of IVales's Island, Singapore and Malacca, 


published weekly from the 25th October 1828 to July 
1830. The Straits Settletnents Government Gazette was 
started in January 1858, but in the previous year a 
start had been made with the annual report on the 
administration of Singapore. The Government Print- 
ing Press was under the orders of the Secretary to 
Government, was in the Public Works Department, and 
the foreman in 1867 was L. F. de Souza. Some of the 
presses still in use in the prison, where much rough 
printing is done, must date long prior to that. They 
may be original " Caxtons " ! On the ist April 1871 
Mr. John Paton arrived to be Superintendent of the 
Government Printing Office. Mr. T. J. Keaughran was 
Government Printer for a few years, and remained in 
Singapore till he died, issuing for several years a directory. 
Mr. H. L. Noronha was for many years in charge of the 
Government Printing Office. There have been several 
short-term holders of the office, and Mr. J. E. Tyler, the 
present Government Printer, has been so ever since 1905. 
The work of the department has increased enormously 
of late years, what with reports, blue-books. Council 
proceedings, evidence and reports of commissions, not 
to mention the steadily increasing demand for forms of 
many kinds. 


If writers and presses innumerable make literature, 
then Singapore has been a flourishing literary centre ; but 
it is useless to attempt to disguise the fact that the many 
pamphlets, small books, and magazine articles which have 
been written and published are mostly personal ex- 
periences and the record of facts and local controversy, 
hardly making history, and but faintly representing 
that. As Mr. A. M. Skinner points out in his Memoir of 
Captain Light, that officer belongs to the active period 
of the Straits to which, as in other places, the " literary 
period " succeeded. The latter began with Marsden 
and Leyden of the many-languaged lore ( 1 805). During 
the next fifty years there was no lack of scholars and 


writers in these countries. But before their time almost 
the only English literature of the Far East consisted of 
accounts by ship captains like Dampier and Forrest, of 
their own and others' voyages . . . but we miss the 
literary side. 

The Press, naturally, has had to confine its work to 
the plain recording of the doings of the day, although 
from time to time contributions approximating to litera- 
ture have been published, though not always with a local 
habitat. The Free Press in 1890 published a number of 
Rudyard Kipling's then new stories, " Without Benefit 
of Clergy," " The Mark of the Beast," " The Return of 
Imray," and " On Greenhow Hill." The columns of the 
same journal had many scholarly articles and essays from 
the pen of the Rev. G. M. Reith, and in its turnovers aims 
at keeping alive the torch of literature. But for the 
most part the impressions of writers and accounts of 
travels are interesting rather because they record the 
ordinary occurrences of life as seen from many points of 
view than from any literary value. Still, many have 
stood the test of time, and their merits as reprints in 
book form are still acknowledged. Mr. J. T. Thomson 
was a traveller who put on paper his experiences, for the 
benefit of those who came after him, in the Journal 
of the Indian Archipelago. Mr. J. R. Logan's obituary 
notice (the 20th October 1869) pays this tribute to his 
powers of clear and forcible expression : 

" Mr. Logan was undoubtedly the foremost literary 
man in the Far East. His ethnological and other 
contributions to the Journal of the Indian Archipelago 
have been quoted and referred to by nearly every 
writer on the East. He was a fellow of and contributor 
to many of the learned societies of Europe, and his loss 
will be sensibly felt in the world of letters." '* Unselfish 
to a degree he spared neither time nor money to promote 
Penang's welfare." 

Dr. Lim Boon Keng's articles on the " Chinese Crisis 
from Within " (Wen Chang was the name he wrote 
under, at a time when secrecy was essential in the 


interests of the writer) were reviewed in book form 
among the notable books of the month, in the Review 
of Reviews (1902), in the terms: " He writes Enghsh 
with marvellous facility and accuracy, and possesses 
the gift of making his narrative interesting as well as 
informing." This is but one of the many books written 
in Singapore, but not entirely about Singapore, and 
therefore outside the pale of this history. There are 
many such books, as, for instance, John Dill Ross's Sixty 
Years' Travel and Adventure in the Far East] Captain 
Sherard Osborn's Quedah, or Stray Leaves from a Journal 
in Malayan Waters (London, 1857); Frank Swettenham 
and Hugh Chfford's books on Malaya ; W. G. Maxwell's 
In Malayan Forests ; Sir J. F. Dickson's article on 
the Straits Settlements and British Malaya {English 
Illustrated Magazine, January 1890) ; John Fairlie's 
'* Life in the Malay Peninsula " {Century Magazine, 
February 1893). No complete bibhography of works 
relating to Singapore exists, but long lists are published 
in various articles in the Journal of the Straits Branch 
of the Royal Asiatic Society, 

Turning to pen-work not purely literary, there is 
a large collection, some in book form, many in local 
magazines and pubhcations. Sir W. E. Maxwell's 
Manual of the Malay Language (1888) ran easily to 
a second edition. He wrote voluminously on Malay 
literature and customs — Malay characteristics, fair}^ 
tales, the Law relating to Slavery among the Malays (1883), 
" Raja Haji, a Malay poem of the eighteenth century," 
etc. Mr. D. F. A. Hervey, a Resident Councillor of 
Malacca, wrote much on the aborigines of Malacca 
and folk-lore. Hugh Clifford's Collection of Malay 
Proverbs is still probably the most valuable. Mr. 
A. M. Skinner (Colonial Secretary 1890) is best known 
for his Geography of the Malay Peninsula. 

The valuable work known as Logan's Journal of the 
Indian Archipelago (12 vols., printed at the Mission 
Press, Singapore, 1847-62) was edited by Mr. J. R. 
Logan, and contains contributions from his pen and from 


many other well-known Singapore men of the middle 
of the nineteenth century. Mr. Logan is generally 
held to be the highest authority on all subjects on which 
he personally wrote, and he enlisted such writers as 
Dr. Little, Mr. Windsor Earle, Mr. T. Braddell, Mr. J. T. 
Thomson, and Colonel Low. Mr. Buckley describes 
it as the first attempt to promote a literary or scientific 
periodical in the British Settlements, and states that it 
did not pay its author. The valuable work has not been 
indexed, but Dr. Dennys, in the Journal of the Royal 
Asiatic Society, No. 18, gives an alphabetical list of 
the contents. This is reproduced in his Descriptive 
Dictionary of British Malaya (London, 1894). 

The Essays relating to Indo-China (Trubner, 1885) 
are in four volumes, edited by Dr. Rost. The principal 
matters belonging to Singapore referred to in them 
are: Vol. I, . Climate of Singapore, tables, 1820-24; 
and three articles on the " Inscription of the Jetty 
at Singapore," telling all that is known of the famous 
stone the fragment of which was sent to the Calcutta 
Museum; Vol. II has a long article by J. R. Logan on 
the Local and Relative Geology of Singapore ; Vol. I 
(second series), an extremely detailed account of the 
Rocks at Pulo Ubin. 


Journalism has not been without incidents in Singa- 
pore. On one occasion a man giving a false military 
name, and being afterwards charged with cheating 
the Robinson Piano Co., had a few remarks made in 
the newspaper as to his previous career. He had 
been given the chance to go to South Africa, where 
there was a war on, and had refused, and the Free Press 
mildly remarked that he might " have a chance to 
serve the Queen in a less honourable capacity than 
in South Africa." The man took this amiss, and called 
on the Editor, who of course had only seen the paragraph, 
and took it on the faith of his sub. The end of the inter- 
view was a week in hospital, as the man turned nasty 


and was flung down a flight of steps. The worst part 
was that when he recovered he summoned the Editor 
for causing a breach of the peace, and the magistrate 
on the Bench, not a European, bound the Editor over 
to keep the peace ! 

Another incident during the tenure of Mr. Arnot 
Reid's editorship of the Straits Times suggests journal- 
istic vicissitudes in places like the wilds of Texas rather 
than an ultra-respectable place like Singapore, where 
the Editor always wears a stiff collar. The relief of 
Mafeking sent a thrill through the Empire, which 
found a responsive echo in the breasts of Singapore's 
staid brokers. The place rejoiced, and the brokers 
found themselves not too busy to join Harry Abrams in 
a demonstration which began at the Singapore Club 
and ended in a couple of four-in-hands driving up to 
Government House to express their gladsomeness 
to Sir Alexander Swettenham, who was not very much 
cheered by the visit. In the plain forcible language 
that characterised Mr. Reid, he penned a scathing leading 
article, full of personalities, which so roused the ire 
of some of the leading young brokers that they deter- 
mined to wait on the outspoken Editor and express 
their annoyance with a horsewhip. Mr. Reid heard 
of the intention, and the deputation found a sturdy 
Sikh policeman outside the editorial sanctum, and 
a very business-like-looking revolver by the side of 
the Editor, who expressed his determination to make 
use of it on the very first man who raised a hand against 
him. The deputation was rather taken aback by 
this resolute attitude of the little man, and after some 
hard words they withdrew ; but for some days after- 
wards the Editor had his policeman on guard and 
following him about, and the revolver remained a paper- 
weight while he was in office. The matter blew over 
in time, but many people thought that the Editor and 
his plain language on '' mafficking " came out of it better 
than the threatening brokers. 

The writers of this History have had to depend largely 










Caricature by R. W. Braddell. 

lU 290] 


upon the Press of the past for facts and contemporary 
views. Many of the references are most interesting, 
and have been used. Generally contemporary history 
has faithfully appraised the merits of a policy and of the 
makers of history in the Colony, and these have been 
freely used. There is a vast deal of interesting and 
curious information in the back numbers of the news- 
papers that has been only partly dealt with. Some 
readers may be of opinion that more might have been 
prudently abandoned to ** the all-recording, all-effacing 
Files ; the obliterating automatic Files ; our news- 
paPere-la-Chaise, the office Files." 

Mr. W. G. St. Clair's connection with the Press of 
Malaya dates back to 1 887, when he was selected to come 
out as Editor of the revived daily Singapore Free Press. 
He was born on the 27th March, 1849, educated at the 
Royal High School, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Institution, 
Ewart Institute, and Edinburgh University. In 1874 
he was appointed Head Master of Moulmein Town School, 
Burma, where he showed the abilities as a rifle-shot 
and a musician that afterwards became so markedly 
useful to the community in Singapore. His great 
ability in English and classical knowledge and his 
wordcraft were a great asset, and to the end of his 
long career as a journalist he never suffered himself, 
nor allowed anyone else if he could help it, to fall short 
of a high standard of English writing, his particular 
knowledge of etymology infallibly leading to the use 
of right words in the right places. In the twenty-nine 
years during which he edited the Free Press he was never 
found to make a mistake in spelling, and few people 
could have written so much and never been wanting 
in that respect. He was essentially an Imperialist, 
and made a profound study of Imperial and constitu- 
tional politics, and never failed to discuss Imperialmatters 
in the broadest mind and with the most far-seeing know- 
ledge. How great a power he was in building up the social 
and artistic life of Singapore is told in other articles 
in this work. A skilful musician, he founded, and by 


his efforts kept going, the Philharmonic Society. Able 
to sketch well, many of his after-tiffin effects on the 
menu card were worth a second look. The Singapore 
Volunteer Artillery was to a large extent his sturdy 
youngster, and in 1 90 1 , at the request of the Government, 
he carried out the organisation and equipment of the 
Singapore Volunteer Rifles. He probably shot in 
more interport rifle matches than any other represen- 
tative of Singapore. And he had his real taste of real 
jungle fighting in the disturbances in Pahang in 1892, 
as Assistant Commissioner in the ist Perak Sikhs 
under Lieutenant-Colonel Frowde Walker. In the 
course of the expedition. Captain St. Clair led a force 
from Raub into an unexplored, almost unknown, and 
difficult piece of country, and captured a party of rebels. 
At various times he had the opportunity of meeting 
important persons who passed through Singapore, and 
discussing matters with them, later receiving letters 
as to the value of the views he had put before them. It 
was through Mr. St. Clair that Aguinaldo, the famous 
Filipino leader, was introduced in the Free Press office 
to Mr. Spencer Pratt, then American Consul-General 
in Singapore, and was invited to go up to Hongkong 
and meet Admiral Dewey on the outbreak of hostilities 
between Spain and the United States in 1898. He was 
a member of the Imperial Press Conference in London 
in 1909. In his long career as doyen of the Press of the 
Far East, Major St. Clair made hundreds of friends, 
and when he vacated the editorial chair in March 191 6 
on retirement, his friends subscribed for a portrait 
of him by the late Mr. John Adamson, son of the late 
Sir William Adamson, which is the presentment of 
the Major in this book. He is now living in Barbados, 
having found that the climate of England was too 
severe for him after so long a residence in the tropics. 

" Straits Produce " 
This, the only (consciously) comic paper of Singapore, 
deserves a note to itself. The first number was issued 

Editor, Singapore Free Press, 1887-1916. 

ir. 292] 


in 1868, and subsequent issues are dated 1870, 1893, 
July 1894, ^^^ April 1895. The last series of three 
was due to the collaboration of James Miller (Gilfillan, 
Wood and Co.) and David Chalmers Neave (Eraser and 
Neave). The former was a clever artist, and is respon- 
sible for most of the line drawing. It was Mr. Neave, 
however, who made the production possible by himself 
etching the zinco-plates. He was an excellent amateur 
photographer, but the resources of the Colony in " block- 
making " were scanty in those days, and the whole 
of the processes had to be carried out by himself. A 
cartoon by '' Kyd " (R. W. Braddell) in No. 3 gives 
Mr. Miller, the aim of the paper being stated in the same 
number" to msike Straits Produce humorous and amus- 
ing without admitting anything ill-natured or personally 
spiteful." The profits were given to the St. Nicholas 
Home, the predecessor of St. Mary's. 

The 1870 number no doubt reflected public opinion 
on Sir Harry Ord's unpopular Government, a full- 
page cartoon dealing with St. George with the Drag-on, 
said drag being the five Unofficial Members of Council 
hanging on to the tail of the Governor's horse, riding 
full-pelt to the chasm of Debt and Despotism. Later 
numbers depict well-known incidents and men of the 
years in which they were pubhshed. Mr. Buckley 
comes in a song (1895), and these two verses are character- 
istic of him and of the spirit of the paper : 

When he goes to the Club for his cup of tea, 
On drainage hell lecture the gallant R.E., 
Hydraulics he'll teach the unlettered C.E., 
And expose the ignorance of McR — chie. 

When the limelight he works upon the stage. 
He refresheth the hearts of youth and age 
With sweet fairies and scenes our minds engage. 
With troubles of lovers and of love and rage. 
And the Children love him so. 

His kindness is felt by all, 
Meanness of self he does not know, 
He helpeth those who fall. 

Much history in prose, verse, and picture is contained 
in Straits Produce. Reproductions of its line-work 


show Mr. T. Shelford when the Singapore Free Press, of 
which he found part of the capital to re-estabhsh it 
as a daily paper, called on all members of the Legislative 
Council to resign ; Sir Frank Swettenham, then in Perak ; 
Mr. John Fraser, " our jolly old Octopus " ; and Mr. 
Song Ong Siang and Dr. Lim Boon Keng, two Queen's 
Scholars, who took their degrees in 1893. 

The Press of the Domiciled Community 

(For the following particulars the author of this article 
is indebted to Mr. A. H. Carlos) 

The absence of newspapers principally devoted to 
the interest of the Eurasian community is explained 
by the fact that prior to the 'Seventies there was no 
separation of the inhabitants of the Settlement into 
classes. Half a century ago the Eurasian did not 
realise that his powers and usefulness would extend 
beyond that of his ancestors. Nor had he any reason to 
foresee the growth and development on Western lines 
of the fast-increasing Chinese population here domiciled. 
There came a day, however, when the Eurasian saw 
himself being gradually isolated, and John Hansen in 
the early 'Seventies started the Straits Intelligence^ to 
forward the interests of his people. Hansen was a 
piano-tuner by profession, and it reflects credit on him 
that he was able to show sufficient energy and literary 
ability to start a newspaper. It was printed by the 
Commercial Press, of which John F. Hansen (his father) 
and A. Zuzarte were the proprietors. The paper was 
short-lived, and this discouraged any further attempt 
for some years. In the latter part of 1887 John Nichol- 
son, encouraged by friends, made a second attempt to 
found a paper to voice the sentiments of his people, 
the Singapore Eurasian Advocate, and the idea was 
supported by the Singapore Free Press, in an article of 
the nth January 1888, which reads : 

" We have to record the first appearance of yet 
another candidate for public favour in the field of local 




- ^-\J 

.,...,..,, ^ OUB ^OL 

K. 294] 

JOHN frase;r. 


journalism. It is not long ago since we perused the pro- 
spectus of the new paper The Singapore Eurasian Advocate, 
and a copy of the first issue has reached us to-day. The 
Editor, in the introductory article, describes the general 
policy which is to guide him in the conduct of his paper. 
As its title implies, the appeal for support is made to the 
particular class of Singapore residents whose interests 
are to be the special care of the new venture. It is a 
numerous and an important class of the community, and 
we gather that with some few exceptions the Eurasian 
residents of this Settlement have accorded their new 
representative organ a satisfactory amount of support. 
Regret is expressed, however, that the exceptions in some 
instances are members of their class whose success in 
life is a credit to themselves and to the whole Eurasian 
community. It is to be trusted, for the sake of the 
continued welfare of the Singapore Eurasian Advocate y 
that that just ground of complaint will be removed at an 
early date, and that it will receive the support and secure 
that success which, whether it command it or not, it is 
evidently determined to deserve. The main difficulties 
to be encountered will possibly arise from the compara- 
tively limited field within which the newspaper will 
prosecute its special labours and the tendency of the 
Eurasian and European sections of the community to 
blend easily and naturally into one owing to the absence 
of any distinct line of demarcation. But still our 
contemporary has made a fairly good case for the 
establishment of the Singapore Eurasian Advocate, It 
will pursue its special mission in a spirit of independent 
impartiality, and while promising its sympathetic aid 
in all cases of genuine class-grievance, it honestly declines 
to listen to the complaint arising from self-sought evils 
or those evils which are the deserved result of ill- 
regulated conduct. With this honourable mission before 
it our new contemporary begins, we trust, a long and 
prosperous career." 

The most striking points in the paper were the use 
of the term " Eurasian " and the public announcement 
of its pohcy. Ben d'Aranjo was the Editor. It lasted 
three years. Although the Editor in his first issue 
proclaimed that the paper would pursue its mission in a 
n — 30 


spirit of independent impartiality, the feeling of many 
of the community was that by neglecting the interests 
of the less favoured section the Advocate did not voice 
the Eurasians of Singapore as a whole. Nicholson's 
paper, however, if it did nothing else, gave the com- 
munity a stimulus, and with serene confidence and praise- 
worthy ideals, John Murray Frois (who was foreman 
compositor in the Straits Times) started his own printing 
business, and published the longest lived Eurasian paper 
so far. Frois was a self-educated man, having acquired 
his knowledge of English letters in the monotonous 
and dreary years of composing and proof-reading. He 
started a paper in 1 892, and called it the Daily Advertiser. 
The first editor was John Webb, a European. He was 
an erratic worker, and it was not long before Henry 
Barnaby Leicester was engaged to write the editorials, 
with D. C. Perreau as a regular contributor. With 
regard to matters foreign the paper was necessarily 
conservative, but it could not be anything else but 
democratic in local topics. It ran for four years. It 
changed its name to the Phoenix Press. The promoters 
did not obtain public support, and the paper died in 1900. 

It was not until 1905 that an Indian gentleman 
started the Eastern Daily Mail, which paper ceased 
publication abruptly after a libel case. Years rolled on, 
and with grave issues to discuss the Eurasians remained 
without a paper. Late in 191 3 Mr. D. C. Perreau 
conceived the idea of a paper run by wealthy Chinese 
so that there would be no need to dread financial results. 
He passed the idea on to Dr. Lim Boon Keng and Mr. 
Alexander W. Westerhout. These gentlemen took the 
matter up, and the result was the Malaya Tribune. 

With a view to make his journal popular Frois had 
invited the Rev. A. Lamont and Tan Teck Soon to 
contribute articles. These gentlemen were strong sup- 
porters of the Anti-Opium League, and, instead of 
contributing to the columns of the paper, came over to 
have a look round the printing works. The result was 
that they made an offer for the works and the paper for 


propaganda work, and eventually bought the business. 
John Murray Frois then started what was known for 
some time as the Midday Herald, but he suffered from 
the want of a strong editorial staff. It is said that the 
paper received a copy of a speech which the Governor 
intended to deliver at the Council. Instead of keeping 
this speech till it was delivered, Frois inserted it in his 
paper the day previous, and was consequently the laugh 
of the town. Next year, 1 898, he sold his paper and busi- 
ness to Joseph Castel Pestana and Samuel William 
Augustine, both retired Government servants. Augus- 
tine took charge of the job-printing department while 
Pestana ran the paper with W. H. Whitaker as Editor 
and Benjamin d'Aranjo as Sub-Editor. The new paper 
was called the Straits Telegraph. 

Early in 191 7 Mr. T. C. Archer mooted the question 
of a monthly magazine, and at first was not able to bring 
it out, owing to the War ; but the first number of Our 
Magazine duly appeared a few days before the Centenary 
Day, the 6th February 19 19. 

In the late 'Eighties appeared numbers of the 
Rafflesian, chronicling the doings of the Raffles School, 
and giving the boys an impetus in literary advancement 
and sport. It was conducted by J. A. dos Remedios, 
and during his absence by D. C. Perreau and Song Ong 

The Straits Settlements Association 

The Straits Settlements Association was formed in 
London on the 31st January 1868, and the Singapore 
Branch on the 20th March 1868. In the 1872 Directory 
the office of the former is stated to be 21 St. Swithin's 
Lane, Cannon Street, and the list of officers is : 
President, Rt. Honourable Ed. Horsman, M.P. ; Vice- 
Presidents : Colonel Gray, S. Waterhouse, Sir James 
Elphinstone, J. H. Burke, Jacob Bright, G. G. Nicol, 
R. N. Fowler, T. A. Mitchell, E. ,Haveland, all of them 
Members of Parliament except G. G. Nicol ; Chairman, 
William Napier ; Deputy Chairman, James Guthrie ; 


Hon. Secretary, P. F. Tidman ; Committee : Edward 
Boustead, John Harvey, James Fraser, H. M. Simons, 
Jonathan Padday, W. Mactaggart, E. J. Leveson, 
J. J. Greenshields (Singapore), W. W. Shaw, WiUiam 

The Singapore Branch was thus constituted : 
Chairman, W. H. Read ; Deputy Chairman, Hon. W. 
Adamson ; Committee, R. Padday, J. Cameron, O. 
Mooyer, J. D. Vaughan, J. Young, J. S. Atchison, 
G. H. Reme ; Hon. Secretary, J. S. Atchison. 

There was also a Penang Branch (formed the 28th April 
1868): Chairman, L. Navine ; Committee, J. Allan, 
A. Gentle, H. J. D. Padday, S. Heriot ; Hon. Secretary, 
Stuart Heriot. 

A reference in the Singapore Daily Times of 1869 
mentions also as London " stalwarts " Gilman and 
Little, and that they roused the local Association which 
had A. T. Carmichael (Manager, Chartered Bank) for 
Chairman and W. Adamson as Vice-Chairman. In 1872 
the Association lodged a protest against the Treaty just 
concluded with the Dutch Government concerning the 
trade of Sumatra. 

Neither Keaughran's Directories nor those issued at 
the Mission Press up to 1882 mention the Association, 
and we have to come to 1887 for the next mention, 
in the Singapore Free Press. 

In 1888, the moving spirit being Mr. W. G. St. Clair, 
then here a little over a year, the Straits Branch was 
reconstituted and reorganised, the usefulness of the 
Institution having been insisted on at a home-going dinner 
to Mr. T. Shelford. A circular was issued signed by Thos. 
Scott, WiUiam Adamson, A. L. Donaldson, A. Currie, 
J. R. Cuthbertson, C. Stringer, Wm. McKerrow, John 
Fraser, W. G. St. Clair, and Alex Gentle, Honorary 
Secretary. The annual subscription was fixed at a dollar, 
the qualification being " British subjects, natural-born 
or naturahsed," Members of the Legislative Council and 
salaried officials of Government to be ineligible for 
election to the Committee. 


The first general meeting of the reconstituted Branch 
was held in September 1888. Among those present, 
still in the Colony, were M. A. Cornelius, T. C. Loveridge, 
W. E. Hooper, W. Makepeace (Vice-President in 191 8), 
and Seah Liang Seah. 

Since then the Branch has been quietly and watchfully 
carrying on the work of guarding the interests of un- 
official Singapore. In some years only the annual general 
meeting was held, but when a subject of importance 
arose, on which it was desirable for the public to have an 
opportunity of expressing an opinion, the Association 
has done its work in pubUc ; such, for instance, as in the 
Military Contribution Question, when Mr. W. J. Napier 
framed a valuable statement of the case of the Colony 
(1891). Much committee and sub-committee work was 
done, one notable instance being an enquiry into the 
working of the Contagious Diseases Ordinances, when 
they were about to be repealed (1899), by W. G. St. 
Clair, S. R. Robinson, and Dr. D. J. Galloway. 

In 1890 a largely attended general meeting endorsed 
the action taken by the Unofficial in opposing the in- 
creased military contribution. On 14th March 1891 
a great public meeting backed up the Association and 
later caused a petition to be presented to Parliament, 
signed by 1,000 British subjects in Singapore. At the 
next annual general meeting the Government was urged 
to allow an appeal from the tribunals of the " Protected 
Malay States " to the Supreme Court of the Colony. In 
1893 continued action was taken in the Mihtary Con- 
tribution, and in conjunction with the parent association, 
a deputation waiting on the Marquis of Ripon on the 
1 5th May. The Committee refused to commit themselves 
to bi-metalUsm, as asked by the China Association in 
Shanghai in 1 894. 

In July 1894 a deputation waited on Sir Charles 
Mitchell, and urged that their claim for reconsideration 
of the amount to be paid as military contribution be 
wired home. Through all this strenuous time Mr. W. J. 
Napier acted as Honorary Secretary and Treasurer. 


Another great public meeting in January 1895 endorsed 
the action of Messrs. Shelford, Donaldson, and Seah 
Liang Seah, of all the Justices of the Peace, and of the 
Chinese Advisory Board in resigning their offices. In 
March the Committee put up $1,100 in the room to 
fight the exaction, and the sum expended in all totalled 
$4,500. So vigorously was the fight continued that 
eventually 17J per cent, of the revenue was offered and 
accepted on the understanding that the charge was 
inclusive. Mr. Huttenbach had not resigned, and was 
in favour of 20 per cent, being offered. On the con- 
clusion of this memorable fight the Singapore Branch 
placed on record " their high appreciation of the energy 
with which the Association in London has worked on 
behalf of the Colony . . . and they desire especially to 
thank Mr. William Adamson for his arduous personal 
efforts in the matter." 

Being now in fighting trim, the Association in 1896 
tackled the Government over the Municipal Bill, the 
Chairman, Mr. Thos. Scott, having been a Municipal 
President and therefore particularly qualified to express 
an opinion. This year Mr. W. J. Napier was appointed 
to the Legislative Council. 

A question arising as to the scope of the Association 
on the 29th October 1896, it was affirmed : " That this 
Association records that its scope includes everything 
relating to the Straits Settlements and the Malayan 
Archipelago and the adjoining countries." This was 
carried by seven votes to one. Although Mr. St. Clair 
signed these minutes at the next meeting, and no 
record is made of the dissentient, one can guess who it 

In 1897 the Association here and at home took up 
the effect of the repeal of the Contagious Diseases 
Ordinance, also the action of the opium farmer in 
altering the size of the packets. In September 1898, in 
conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, a meeting 
was organised to hear Lord Charles Beresford on China. 
Matters went quietly for some years. The Association 


refused to be drawn into the question of the Teluk Ayer 
Reclamation Works, but pressed for a river improve- 
ment scheme. It also called a public meeting, which 
almost unanimously disapproved of the expropriation 
of Tanjong Pagar and the construction of the inner 
harbour, in view of the altered financial position of the 
Colony. There was a strong opinion in favour of can- 
celling Sir John Jackson's contract. 

Next the Association was found, 191 1, opposing an 
income-tax and proposed municipal legislation, public 
meetings endorsing their action in each case. 

In 191 5, 1916, 191 7, the Association organised and 
carried out the war " inflexible determination " meetings. 
Finally, on the 13th December 191 8, an enthusiastic 
pubhc meeting to vote for the exclusion of German 
subjects for ten years was held. 

The Straits Philosophical Society 

The Straits Philosophical Society was founded in the 
year 1893 (the 5th March) under the presidency of 
Major-General Sir Charles Warren, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., 
having for its object the critical discussion of questions in 
philosophy, history, theology, literature, science, and 
art. The first members were the Rev. G. M. Reith, 
M.A. (Secretary and Treasurer), the Hon. (later Sir) 
John Winfield Bonser, Mr. (now Sir) Walter Napier, 
Mr. H. N. Ridley, C.M.G., Mr. R. W. Hullett, Mr. (now 
Sir) J. Bromhead Matthews, Mr. J. McKillop, Dr. D. J. 
Galloway, Mr. A. Knight, Mr. Tan Teck Soon, the Hon. 
T. Shelford, C.M.G., Dr. G. D. Haviland, the Hon. R. N. 
Bland, C.M.G., and the Hon. C. W. Kynnersley. 

The active membership was limited to fifteen in 
number, and preference was given to graduates of 
universities, fellows of a British or European learned 
society, and persons of distinguished merit. The active 
members had to be residents in Singapore ; but residents 
in the other Settlements and in the Malay Peninsula 
might be enrolled as corresponding members at a 
reduced subscription. 


It was the rule of the Society to meet monthly, the 
members dining together before the paper was read 
and discussed. The entrance fee was $5, and the annual 
subscription $25. Fines were imposed on members 
who were absent without approved cause. 

Among the many who have rendered service to this 
Society in its long and honourable career, three are 
worthy of special mention : the Hon. W. R. Collyer, 
I.S.O., who was President for ten years (i 894-1901, 
1902-6) ; Mr. H. N. Ridley, C.M.G., who was Presi- 
dent for five years (1907-12) ; and Mr. Arthur Knight, 
who was Secretary for twenty years. 

In 191 3 a selection of essays read before the Society 
between 1893 ^^^ 19 10 was published in a volume, 
entitled Nodes Orientales, under the editorship of Mr. 
Ridley. The essays selected are such as have special 
local interest, or such as throw light on the Oriental 
aspect of various subjects ; and in this permanent 
form are a testimony to the valuable work the Society 
has done. 

In recent years the Society has carried on its work 
amid difficulties ; and to meet the situation the sub- 
scription has been reduced. When war broke out 
many of the members left the Colony for national service, 
while such as remained were overtaxed by business and 
military service, and found themselves unable to devote 
to the Society the attention necessary for its efficient 
working. However, in spite of these difficulties, and 
owing to the zeal of successive Presidents — Mr. A. W. 
Still and Dr. Lim Boon Keng — the meetings have con- 
tinued to be held at regular intervals. 

A complete record of the Society's proceedings is pre- 
served in the pubUc libraries of Singapore and Penang. 


At the farewell banquet to the Hon. W. R. Collyer, 
in the Singapore Club on the 19th January 1906, a 
photo was taken. The following members may be seen 
in it : 


Back row {left to right) : Mr. Tan Teck Soon ; Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Sankey, R.E. ; Rev. W. Murray, M.A. 
Hon. W. R. Collyer, I.S.O. ; Mr. H. N. Ridley, M.A. 
F.R.S. ; Mr. A. Knight ; Lieutenant-Colonel Penne- 
father ; Dr. G. E. Brooke ; Mr. H. F. Rankin, F.E.LS. 
Dr. D. J. Galloway. 

Front row {left to right) : Mr. R. W. Hullett, M.A 
Dr. Lim Boon Keng ; R. Hanitsch, Ph.D. ; Lieutenant 
J. N. Biggs, R.G.A. ; Mr. G. E. V. Thomas ; Mr. C 
Emerson; Mr. P. J. Burgess, M.A. ; Major Ritchie, M.B 

St. Andrew's Society 

Scotsmen have played no insignificant part in the 
history of the Colony from its very beginning. In 
every side of its life — civil, mercantile, social, rehgious, 
and educational — they have had a share. We are sure 
the national sentiment would not be without some 
forms of expression during the first two decades, although 
our incomplete annals have no record of it ; but it showed 
itself later in the institution of the Scots' Church, a 
movement which began in the early 'Forties and took 
shape in a permanent institution ten years later. In 
1 879 (the 2nd December) a St. Andrew's Ball was held in 
the Singapore Club, and it has been ever since a fairly 
regular annual event, though now and again a banquet 
has been substituted. In recent years, until the out- 
break of war, a Scottish Universities' Dinner has been 
instituted and held on Hallow-e'en (the 31st October). 

On the 27th November 1908 St. Andrew's Society 
was formed that *' there might be in Singapore a regu- 
larly constituted body of Scotsmen under whose 
auspices and control the anniversary of St. Andrew 
may be observed, and who may take cognizance of, 
discuss, and take steps in regard to any matters which 
possess a national and local interest by donations from 
the Society's funds or otherwise." The Society was also 
to be '' a charitable institution to relieve distressed and 
deserving countrymen in so far as considered desirable 
and the funds will permit." 


In that year (1908) both the Governor and the Colonial 
Secretary were Scotsmen ; the former (Sir John Ander- 
son, G.C.M.G.) became Patron, and the latter (Sir 
Arthur Henderson Young, K.C.M.G.) President. The 
other members of this the first committee of the Society 
were the Hon. Dr. D. J. Galloway (Vice-President), Mr. 
James Henry (Secretary), and Mr. J. J. Macbean 
(Treasurer). The membership in the first year was 


Succeeding Presidents have been Dr. Galloway, W. W. 
Cook, Frank Adam, and Captain Chancellor. Special 
mention should be made of Mr. Frank Adam, who held 
the office for five years, and whose enthusiasm in all 
things Scottish was unique. Besides being a recognised 
authority on the Scottish clans and tartans, he was a 
piper, and organised a company of " Pipers of Malaya." 
He also had a scheme for the formation of a local corps 
of Scottish Volunteers ; but the outbreak of war and 
his own retirement from the Colony in 191 8 interrupted, 
but, let us hope, only delayed, its completion and realisa- 

Under the auspices of the Society the observance of 
St. Andrew's Day became a permanent institution. 
Burns 's Anniversary (25th January) was also frequently 
kept by holding a Scottish concert for charitable pur- 
poses, and for the success of these concerts during a 
number of years the Society owed a great deal to the 
capable leadership of Mr. Alex. Proctor. 

When war broke out in 19 14, the Society resolved to 
suspend for the time the usual national celebrations, and 
to ask Scotsmen to contribute to war funds what was 
usually given to these functions, and as much more as 
they could afford. The result of this appeal has been 
that about $25,000 has been raised to date; and out 
of this sum help has been given to the Prince of Wales's 
Fund, the Belgian Rehef Fund, and the fund for pro- 
viding comforts for Scottish soldiers, the last-named 
getting the largest share of the assistance. 


The British and Foreign Bible Society 

As early as 1825 Raffles wrote to the headquarters of 
the Society in London, urging the appointment of a 
lay-agent for Singapore at a salary of ;^ 100 a year with 
travelling expenses. He had experience of the Society's 
work in Batavia, where an auxiliary had been estab- 
lished in 1 814 under his patronage ; and also in Ben- 
coolen, where its good work had much impressed him. 
The Society's practical interest in this part of the 
world at that early period was proved by its issue of a 
Malay version of the Bible from its Calcutta auxiliary 
in 1 814, and by the encouragement it gave to mission- 
aries in the work of translation and distribution in 
Malacca, Penang, and Java. 

Although more than half a century was to elapse 
before the desired agency was to be estabhshed, the 
work for which the Society stood was not neglected. 
In 1837 a local Auxiliary Society was formed, in which 
the Resident Councillor, Dr. Oxley, and other leading 
residents, together with Protestant clergymen, took a 
share. It had for its depot a two-storied building on 
the site now occupied by the Raffles Girls* School. 
The removal of nearly all missionaries to China in 1 847, 
when that closed land opened its doors to foreigners, 
must have been a blow to the work of this auxiliary, 
and probably accounts for the fact that its existence is 
lost sight of in succeeding records. 

In 1857 a Ladies' Bible and Tract Society was formed, 
and had the influential support of Mrs. Cavenagh and 
Lady Ord as its successive Presidents. It employed a 
Malay colporteur, issued a religious magazine called 
The Christian in Singapore, and instituted a monthly 
prayer-meeting in which members from all the churches 
united. In 1870 this Ladies' Society co-operated in the 
formation of, and became absorbed in, a new auxiliary 
of the Bible Society, of which the Rev. B. P. Keasberry 
was President, Rev. W. Dale Secretary, and Mr. Isaac 
Henderson Treasurer. 


The death of Mr. Keasberry in 1876 was a great blow. 
He had issued in the name of the Society his Malay 
version of the New Testament in 1853 in Roman char- 
acter, and in 1856 in Arabic character. In 1859 his 
version of the Old Testament began to appear with the 
publication of Proverbs ; and was followed in 1873 by 
the Psalms, in 1874 by Isaiah, and in 1875 by 2 Kings. 
" Now that he is gone," writes the Secretary, ''there is 
not one in the Peninsula to labour for the Malays, nor 
is there a Protestant missionary for the multitude of 
Chinese in the town." For six years the local auxiliary 
struggled with the difficulties of the situation, and 
reports show that about 1,200 copies of the Scriptures a 
year were distributed or sold by voluntary workers. 

In 1880 Miss Cooke, of the Chinese Girls' School, who 
had been working in the Colony for thirty years, pressed 
upon the Committee in London the need for organised 
work, and the local auxiliary sent an urgent request 
for the appointment of a qualified agent. The claims 
of Singapore were, moreover, zealously supported by Sir 
Arthur Cotton. At this juncture Mr. John Haifenden 
offered his services to the Society. Age, character,, 
linguistic knowledge, and familiarity with the East 
marked him out as in many ways qualified for the work, 
and in 1882 he received the appointment as the first 
agent for Malaysia. He held the office for the long term 
of twenty-three years, during which the work spread 
and developed in every direction. In 1905 the Rev. 
P. G. Graham succeeded him ; and he later was followed 
by Mr. C. E. G. Tisdall, the present holder of the office. 

The first depot was at 591 Victoria Street, and after 
occupying several hired quarters in different parts of 
the town, it entered its present permanent premises in 
Armenian Street in 1909. 

The Singapore depot is now the centre for the distribu- 
tion of the Scriptures in the Malay Peninsula and Archi- 
pelago, including the Dutch East Indies, and the agent 
has several sub-agents co-operating with him. From 1 882 
to 191 7 the sales amounted to 2,571,000 copies in forty 


languages, and during the last ten years as many copies 
have been sold as in the previous twenty-six years. A 
version of the New Testament in Baba Malay, translated , 
by Dr. Shellabear, was issued in 191 3. 

The Boustead Institute 

The origin of this useful Institution may be traced 
to Miss Cooke, one of the most indefatigable religious 
and social workers which Singapore ever had. In 1882 
she started a Sailors' Rest in Tanjong Pagar Road, near 
the Kreta Ayer Police Station, in association with Mr. 
Hocquard, another missionary worker. She collected 
subscriptions towards it from all the leading merchants, 
and the Institution so prospered that the premises were 
soon found to be too small. Among those who took an 
interest in it was Mr. Edward Boustead, of Messrs. 
Boustead and Co. On his death, in 1891, Mr. Boustead 
bequeathed ;^9,ooo for the purpose of an Institute for 
Seamen. At the rate of exchange then prevalent (3s. s^d,) 
this amounted to $55,207.67. 

The company which was formed and registered for 
the execution of this bequest consisted of the Honourable 
J. Finlayson (Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce), 
John Blair (Manager of Tanjong Pagar Dock Co.), the 
Honourable T. Shelford, James Miller, John Anderson, 
C. Sugden, and T. C. Bogaardt. In the Memorandum 
of Association the purpose of the Institute is thus defined : 
" to found and maintain in Singapore an Institute for 
the use of seamen or seafaring men and dock employees 
frequenting or residing in Singapore, where such persons 
may be provided with means of shelter, rest, recreation, 
amusement, or intellectual cultivation " ; and " to 
permit the buildings of the Institute and the means of 
recreation, etc., to be used and enjoyed by persons other 
than those mentioned above, as the Institute may from 
time to time think fit." It is provided also that the 
Committee of Management consist of the following 
persons, being British subjects : the Chairman or Deputy 
Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce ; the Manager 


or Chairman of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Co., and a 
partner (or manager) of the following firms — Boustead 
and Co. ; Paterson, Simons and Co. ; Gilfillan, Wood 
and Co. ; Guthrie and Co. ; the Borneo Co. ; and W. 
Mansfield and Co. 

The Tanjong Pagar Dock Co., Ltd., presented the 
building site, and the Institute was opened on Saturday, 
the 2nd July 1892, by H.E. the Governor, Sir C. 
Clementi Smith. H.E. the Governor and the then 
reigning Sultan of Johore were elected patrons and 
honorary life members. 

Two adjoining shop-houses were purchased in 1892, 
and four more in 1893, with a view of extending the 
premises if found desirable. The balance of funds 
remaining after the erection of the Institute and the 
purchase of the adjacent houses has been invested in 
various local banks as fixed deposits, and in Straits 
Settlements War Loan. The interest from these invest- 
ments, with the rents of the shop-houses, has enabled the 
Institute charges for board and lodging to be kept low. 

In the Institute building, which occupies a conspicuous 
site at the main entrance to the docks, there may be 
found a well-supplied reading-room and library, pro- 
vision for billiards and other games, a refreshment-bar, 
where beer and light wines are sold but no spirits, and 
a large hall. There is also accommodation for fourteen 
boarders, and the average daily number of beds occupied 
before the outbreak of war was 75 per cent., and since 
then 63 per cent. Temporary accommodation for sailors 
of H.M. ships visiting the port is frequently provided 
in the large hall, some thirty camp cots and rugs being 
kept for the purpose. Divine service is held in the large 
hall every Sunday night. 

Young Men's Christian Association 

In 1887 there was a Young Men's Christian Associa- 
tion, having headquarters in the Christian Institute in 
Middle Road, and providing a reading-room, debates, and 
recreations for members. But its career was short- 


lived, and it had no connection with the world-wide 
organisation known as the Y.M.C.A. 

In 1892, at a missionary conference representing 
chiefly Presbyterian and Methodist Missions, a strong 
desire was expressed for the establishing of Y.M.C.A. 
work in the city. But a committee appointed to con- 
sider the scheme having reported that the difficulties 
of obtaining a suitable building and worker were in- 
superable, nothing further was done. 

On the 17th August 1900 an appeal was sent to the 
Y.M.C.A. headquarters in London, signed by the Hon. 
W. R. Collyer, Hon. E. C. Hill, Archdeacon Perham, 
Revs. S. S. Walker, W. G. Shellabear, W. T. Cherry, 
A. R. Thoburn, and others, with the result that Mr. R. D. 
Pringle, who had had previous experience in Bombay 
and Colombo, was appointed Organising Secretary for 
Singapore and Malaya. He began his work in 1903, and 
the first rooms of the Association were at 1-2 Armenian 
Street, opened on the 30th June, 1903.- The following 
formed the first local committee : Hon. W. R. Collyer 
(President), Hon. E. C. Hill (Vice-President), Mr. J. M. 
Hart (Treasurer) ; Archdeacon Dunkerley, Revs. S. S. 
Walker, W. P. Rutledge, C. S. Buchanan, and Messrs. 
A. Barker, S. Tomlinson, A. Reid, J. Polglase, E. V. 
Mitchelmore, A. L. Koenitz, and J. Haffenden. The 
Bishop of Singapore (Dr. Hose) became a Patron, and 
the Hon. Dato Meldrum, of Johore, an Hon. Vice-Presi- 

In the following year Zetland House, Armenian 
Street, was taken for residential purposes, and some 
months later the headquarters were moved into the 
same building. These premises soon proved very in- 
adequate for the work of the Association, which com- 
prised reading and recreation rooms, educational and 
religious meetings, as well as boarding accommodation. 
By the kindness of Government an excellent site for a 
permanent building was obtained in Stamford Road, at 
the corner of Fort Canning Road. On the 28th August 
1909 the corner-stone was laid, and on the i6th February 


191 1 the building was officially opened, both functions 
being performed by H.E. the Governor, Sir John 
Anderson, K.C.M.G., who held the office of a Patron of 
the Association during his administration of the Colony. 
The total cost of the building with furnishings was 
$81,000. Mr. Pringle, who for sixteen years has given 
his undivided attention to the work in Singapore and 
Malaya, was instrumental in raising this large sum from 
donors in the Straits, Great Britain, and Australia. Sir 
Robert Laidlaw was a specially generous benefactor. 

The new building enabled the Association to provide 
for more educational work, and classes have been opened 
for shorthand, typewriting, book-keeping, singing, 
mathematics, architecture, sanitary science, electrical 
engineering, etc., for some of which Government grants-in- 
aid were made. It also provided more accommodation 
for boarders. Besides the usual Y.M.C.A. activities, 
many other useful institutions have found a home in the 
building — Boy Scouts, Ministering Children's League, 
Band of Hope, Good Templars, and Chess Club. 

Mr. L. Gordon Cranna succeeded Mr. Pringle as General 
Secretary in 191 7, and has made many useful improve- 
ments in the building by rearrangement and extension. 
Under him the Association turned its attention to work 
for the Army and Navy, and during the last years of 
the War the building was a popular resort of members 
of the forces. 

Although the Association has no mean record in cricket 
and football matches, it has always been handicapped by 
the want of a field of its own for outdoor sport. 

Young Women's Christian Association 

The beginning of the Y.W.C.A. dates from 1875, when 
Miss Sophia Cooke gathered together about twelve 
Chinese girls and a few Europeans for a monthly meeting 
at her school on Government Hill. At these meetings 
records kept by the older Chinese girls of their visits to 
heathen houses were read, magazines and other literature 
were distributed, and Bible readings or addresses were 


given by Miss Cooke, Colonel Johnston Tuck, or some 
other Christian worker. Garments were made for the 
poor in Whitechapel, and flowers with Scripture texts 
were prepared for distribution to the sick in the General 
Hospital or houses visited weekly. 

After the death of Miss Cooke, in 1 895, Miss Eyre came 
from Hongkong to reorganise the work, and during her 
stay of five months here about twenty new members 
joined. In 1 896 Miss Brown became Honorary Secretary 
and Treasurer, beginning a period of service for the 
Society which has continued unbroken to the present 
day. Mrs. W. H. Frizell became President, and inaugu- 
rated the library of the Association. Other members of 
this first committee were Miss Blackmore, Mrs. Shella- 
bear, Miss Ryan, Miss Gage-Brown, and Mrs. Hose. 
In the year 1898 the membership had risen to 102, of 
whom thirty-nine were Chinese. 

In 1907 Miss Ellis was sent out from England to 
become local Organising Secretary in Singapore, being 
supported by North of England branches for three years. 
Waterloo, River Valley Road, was rented. From this 
date the membership began rapidly to increase, and 
new agencies, such as lectures on ambulance and nursing 
and outdoor recreations, were added. 

In 191 3 Miss Radford became General Secretary, and 
during her stay a permanent home was secured for the 
Association by the purchase of a house on Fort Canning 
Road ; and also a branch was begun in Kuala Lumpur. 
In 191 7 Miss Hughes succeeded Miss Radford as 
Secretary, and under her the progress of the Association 
was still further developed. 

The latest report (191 8) records a membership of 
418, namely 301 Europeans and Eurasians, 115 Chinese, 
and two Japanese. Classes have been held for short- 
hand, typewriting, French, Malay, singing, cookery, 
first-aid, and dressmaking. In connection with the 
commercial classes are the " Mary FowUe " Scholarships, 
which commemorate the long and disinterested service 
of Mrs. Fowlie to the Association. There is also a hostel 

II — 21 


for permanent boarders as well as visitors, and travellers 
are met and helped in numerous ways. In connection 
with the Y.W.C.A. is a company of Girl Guides. 

The Singapore Club 

The Singapore Club was first established in 1862, and 
was then situated in Beach Road. The first officials of 
the Club were: Chairman, W. H. Read (A. L. Johnston 
and Co.) ; Secretary, R. B. Read (A. L. Johnston and Co.) ; 
Treasurer, A. Bauer (Zapp, Ritterhaus and Co.) ; Com- 
mittee : T. Braddell (Logan and Braddell), C. H. Harrison 
(Middleton, Harrison and Co.), Captain Protheroe (40th 
Madras Infantry, A.D.C. to the Governor), Captain 
Tireman (Madras Staff Corps, Deputy Assistant Com- 
missary General), A. Schrieder (Behn, Meyer and Co.). 

The Club removed in 1869 to premises in De Souza 
Street, and later to Raffles Square, at the back of premises 
on the site now occupied by John Little and Co. In 1 876 
larger premises were required, and the Chamber of 
Commerce and Singapore Exchange obtained a lease of 
the present site from Government for the purpose of 
erecting a building suitable for a Chamber of Commerce, 
Singapore Exchange, and a Club. The present building 
was officially opened in 1879, and the first function given 
in the Club was a St. Andrew's Ball. 

Association of Engineers 

Founded on the 7th December 1881, the Association 
of Engineers is one of the oldest institutions in the 
Colony with a continuous history. 

Previous to this the engineers had no meeting-place 
other than the various hotels, and no association or 
society to guard their interests. The need for such 
a society had been felt for some time, and this feeling 
was brought to a head by an incident which occurred 
on board a Spanish steamer somewhere about October 
1 88 1. The account which follows is given by an old 
member (Mr. J. H. Drysdale) from memory, and the 


incident has not been mentioned in the local Press, 
so it has not been possible to verify all the details : 

" Like many other good institutions, the Engineers' 
Association was called into being by necessity. 

" Up to the end of 1881 the engineers of the port 
associated in an informal way at the various hotels : 
the old Adelphi, then the Hotel de la Paix and the 
Europe, also Emmerson's where the Whiteaway Laidlaw 
buildings now are. And they always wound up the 
evening at Finkelstein's Tingle-Tangle, and often it 
was a boisterous wind-up. 

" In October there arrived from Europe a new steamer, 
the Leo XIII, a Spanish ship and crew, with three 
English engineers put on board by the builders to see 
the vessel safely delivered at Manila. 

" In those days all sea-going ships used salt water 
in the boilers, and required blowing occasionally to 
prevent the water getting too dense, salting up. The 
Spanish engineers objected to this on account of the 
extra fuel consumed. On the English engineers insisting 
on the blowing down, a row ensued, and the Spanish 
captain promptly locked them up in their cabins. The 
ship burnt less fuel, but started burning tube-ends, etc. 
She limped into Singapore somehow, and coaled. 
The prisoners were kept in the hold, but one managed 
to throw on to the wharf a scrap of paper, wrapped 
round a coin, begging the finder to take the message 
to any English engineers. The finder, luckily, did 
so. He took it on board the ship next astern, a Blue 
Funnel — I think the old Priam. The engineers read the 
paper, and tried to board the Leo XIII, but were thrown 
out. They then went to Mr. Jackson Millar, Superin- 
tendent Engineer of Tanjong Pagar, who took them to 
the then Harbour Master, Captain Ellis, good old Barney 
Ellis. He and they went to the Supreme Court, where 
the Chief Justice was sitting, who issued a writ of 
Habeas Corpus calling on the captain of the ship to 
produce these men. A police officer — I think Inspector 
Jennings — took this down to the ship, also a document, 
which he posted on the mast, forbidding her to leave 
port. He was also thrown down the gangway, and 
the notice torn off the mast was thrown after him. 


Directly after this the captain came up to town to see 
the Spanish Consul, but passed him on his way down 
to the ship. On reaching the ship the Consul told the 
chief officer to clear out at once, captain or no captain, 
which he did. As the ship cast off and steamed away, 
the Consul watched from the wharf, where he was 
joined by the captain, who had followed him down. 
They started a row between themselves, when Inspector 
Jennings, with fifty armed Sikh police, arrived and joined 
in. The captain was put into the gharry and escorted 
to the Central Police Station by the Sikh guard. The 
Consul, of course, was immune from arrest. 

" There was wild excitement in the town that night. 
Engineers went to the different lawyers' offices, and 
finding them closed, cruised around all night long, 
knocking up peaceable people in Tanglin and elsewhere 
enquiring where the lawyers lived. There were several 
gharry loads of these searchers after legal assistance, 
and they engaged all the lawyers they could find — 
in their sarongs and pyjamas — to come to the Supreme 
Court next day. On the new^s being telegraphed to 
Penang the engineers there gathered up the only three 
lawyers they could find, and carried them down and 
saw them safely shipped off to Singapore in the old 
Phya Pekhet. 

" The next day the captain was tried for contempt 
of court, and sentenced to ' twelve months imprisonment, 
or until he should purge his contempt by producing 
the bodies of these men.' 

" There was no man-of-war in harbour, but the Gov- 
ernor cabled to Hongkong, where the Admiral sent the 
cruiser Pegasus across to Manila. The}^ sent a boat's 
crew on board, and duly got the prisoners. The local 
engineers saw the need of some bond of union, and so 
was formed the Engineers' Association. The first 
office-bearers were Mr. Jackson Millar, President ; Mr. 
J.J. Macbean, Vice-President ; Mr. R. Allan, Treasurer ; 
Mr. Robert Park, Secretary; with 147 members on the 
first roll-call. The club-rooms were in the rooms over 
No. I High Street." 

The object of the Association as per Rule i was : 
** That the Association be established to watch over 


and guard the interests, promote and further the welfare, 
elevate and improve the condition of all connected there- 
with by the diffusion of sound practical knowledge, 
the fostering and promoting of a fraternal sympathy, 
and the discussion of reliable principles affecting 
our mutual good ; to use our best influence to get the 
Marine Board Laws carried out in their integrity for 
the public safety. Also to give steamship owners 
greater facilities for obtaining sea-going engineers 
of undoubted practical experience and ability." 

The first meetings of the Association "were held at 
the quarters of the engineers of the Ice Works, No. i 
River Valley Road; then rooms were rented at No. i 
High Street, a reading-room, billiard-room, and bar 
being provided, the first President of the Association 
being Mr. Jackson Millar (of Messrs. Rile^^, Hargreaves, 
Ltd.), now Dean of Guild of Glasgow Corporation; Mr. 
John Macbean (Howarth, Erskine) was Vice-President 
and Mr. Robert Park (Lloyd's Surveyor) Hon. Secretary; 
Robert Allan (Riley, Hargreaves, Ltd.), Treasurer. 

The rooms in High Street were opened on the 2nd 
March 1882, and were in continuous use until the forma- 
tion of the Marine Club, when the engineers joined with 
the deck officers in forming a social club, but each 
body still retaining its professional association as 
a separate body. The Marine Club secured the top 
floor of the Dispensary Building, then newly erected 
on the site of the present Chartered Bank. The new 
premises were comfortable and convenient, and were 
occupied by the Marine Club until 1901, when they 
moved to the top floor of No. 3 Malacca Street. Through 
various causes the Marine Club went into voluntary 
liquidation in April 1905. 

The Engineers' Association then secured the rooms 
in the Dispensary Building at Raffles Place, and occupied 
them until forced to leave owing to the demolition of 
the building to make way for the new Chartered Bank 
buildings. They then went to the rooms at present 
occupied on the top floor of the French Bank. On 


taking these rooms the Association became incorporated 
on the 27th July 1914. 

During its existence the Association has always worked 
for the maintenance and improvement of the status 
of its members. Unfortunately at times it has been 
in conflict with the shipowners over the questions of 
remuneration, this largely through the decline in the 
sterling value of the dollar and the increased cost 
of living. At times, too, they have been forced to 
approach the Government re manning of ships and ships' 
measurement, the s.y. Sea Belle being one case, the 
Government reducing the measurement of this ship 
from 500 tons to 50 tons, allowing her to sail with a 
native master and gunner, instead of a European master 
and mate, and also allowing her to sail with a chief en- 
gineer and driver instead of chief and second engineers 
as before. 

The Merchant Service Guild 

The first Association of Mercantile Officers was formed 
in 1 880, and had its club-room in Queen Street. Among 
the members were Captain Ross, Captain Daly, Captain 
Fripp, and Captain Moss. This lasted about three 
years. In October 1889 the Masters and Mates' 
Association was formed, and Captain J. Craig was one 
of its first presidents. This Association had a room in 
the Marine Club (founded in 1891), where the Chartered 
Bank now is, and did much good work. It considered 
the new Merchant Shipping Bill (1897), ^nd sent into 
Government a useful Memorandum, one of the chief 
points being that local ships should be properly officered 
in order to lessen the danger to all shipping. It formed 
one of the negotiating parties in a strike for higher 
wages in 1902, and, at all events, gave the shipowners 
a responsible body to negotiate with. 

Some years later, when the Association died out, 
the balance of funds was handed over to the South 
African War Funds. There followed a period of partial 
organisation, a branch of the Imperial Merchant Service 
Guild being established here. The present Merchant 


Service Guild, which has still the support of many 
of the members of the former associations, was formed 
in 191 2, having its first rooms in Coleman Street. It is 
now a strong association, with 150 members. Mr. 
Walter Makepeace was Hon. Treasurer of the 1 890 Guild, 
and still is of the existing Guild. 

In 1892 the Society became the Masters and Mates' 
Association of the Straits Settlements, the office-bearers 
being: President, J. Craig; Vice-President, J. Gray; 
Committee : Messrs. Daly, Dunlop, Sutherland, Fawcus, 
Cornwell, Kunath, Kempton, and Dunmall ; Hon. Sec- 
retary and Treasurer, W. Makepeace. In 1894 the 
name became the Mercantile Marine Officers' Association 
of the Straits Settlements. 

Miscellaneous Associations 

Among the clubs which have permanently passed 
over, the Singapore Debating Society was an important 
one, and existed from about 1876 to 1896, when it was 
wound up on the nth August. The Society numbered 
among its members many well-known names ; Members 
of the Legislative Council and bishops-to-be attended 
its meetings. Messrs. J. D. Vaughan, Buckley, Knight, 
Shelf ord, Newton, and Galloway all took a keen interest 
in the debates, which sometimes took the form of a 
parliamentary debate. The Society met for many years 
in the Masonic Hall. 

The Singapore Cycling Club also died in 1896, ex- 
pending the balance of its funds in providing prizes 
for a twenty-mile road race. It had been formed in 
1890 with twenty-three members, of whom only two, 
W. Makepeace and D. J. Galloway, are now in Singapore. 
R. Scoular and E. Wallace were secretaries. It pro- 
moted a good many road races, and secured a place 
for a bicycle race in the S.C.C. Athletic Sports of 1891. 

In 1874 the Young Men's Cricket Club played on 
the Esplanade, J. C. Mitchell being the Secretary. This 
appears to have been associated with the Young Neptune 
Boat Club, which was established in 1870. 


The Strangers' Friend Society in 1 873 had for treasurer 
and almoner Major S. Dunlop, acting for him Mr. R. W. 

The Swimming Club 

The Swimming Club dates back to 1893, being formed 
on the 14th November. The first bungalow was rented on 
the sea-shore near Sandy Point, but the encroachment 
of the sea caused that to be abandoned. In February 
1894 the Club raised debentures and bought its present 
property, building the present Club House, and later 
the protecting walls, the concrete pier, and the diving 
stage. The Club rapidly grew in popularity and sports- 
manship. P. H. Upton, who left in 1901 for Adelaide, 
was a valued captain for some years. Many old 
members have given cups and trophies for races, and 
the old S.V.A. swimming shield used to be raced for 
under the Club management. G. Wald, who lost his 
life in the Mutiny, was another strong supporter of 
racing, and Mr. W. A. Sims for years had charge of the 
onerous duties of Honorary Treasurer, and was for several 
years President. The Swimming Club has always 
been attractive to the young men of all nationalities, 
as well as to the seniors, who like to spend a quiet Sunday 
by the sea-side. Their regattas include one in the 
Empire Dock just as it was being completed, and since 
the War a couple have been held for charitable purposes. 

Singapore Yacht Clubs 

A Singapore Yacht Club was established at the time 
the first New Year Sports were held, 1834. Mr. W. H. 
Read was Commodore in 1867. It was revived in 1881, 
and the writer has a recollection that, some ten years 
later, Mr. J. P. Joaquim, who was a surviving member, 
said something like $4,000 was to the credit of the Club 
in one of the banks. The unearned increment ! In 
this (Centenary) year a third yacht club has just been 
started that looks as if it may achieve permanent 


Photographic Society 

The Straits Photographic Society was founded in 
1889, Mr. D. C. Neave being instrumental in its forma- 
tion. Dr. Murray Robertson was the second President. 
The Society carried on successfully for some years, among 
those closely associated with it being the late Mr. E. J. 
Robertson and Mr. George Brinkworth. It provided a 
dark-room for members, one being in Hill Street, and 
held many successful exhibitions. The exhibition in 
July 1894 reached a high level of work, there being 
twenty-two exhibitors, including Messrs. F. M. Elhot, J. 
B. Elcum, H. A. Crane, W. N. Dow, G. M. Dare, G. Brink- 
worth, E. J. Robertson, and A. W. Bean, this last-named 
being Singapore's amateur photographer par excellence. 




The first " Sport " Club in Singapore was the Billiard 
Club, formed at the instance of Mr. E. Boustead on the 
1st October 1829, the admission fee being $50 and the 
subscription $4. No smoking was allowed in the 
billiard- room, which was to be open from 6 a.m. to 
10 p.m. Members not attending a meeting were to be 
fined $2. At the end of 1829 the subscription was 
raised to $6, and Mr. W. R. George was elected Secretary. 
Nothing is known of what happened to the Club after 

Fives appears to have been the next game, 1836, the 
court being where the Government Buildings now stand, 
and at that time play began at 6 a.m., taking the place 
of the early morning walk. As late as 1 866 there used 
to be a dozen players or more in the court in the after- 
noon, apparently feeling still the obligation they owed 
to Dr. Montgomerie, to whom the fives players gave a 
dinner in 1836, "in testimony of the obligation they 
owed him for the introduction of such a wholesome and 
exciting sport." The second fives court was built in 
Armenian Street, and was not pulled down till 1886, to 
make way for St. Andrew's House. The Club survived 
in 1874, L. J. R. Glass being Secretary and Treasurer. 

Racing was started in 1843 by the establishment of 
the Sporting Club on the 4th October 1842, and a two 
days' meeting was held on the 23rd and 25th February. 
The first race was at 1 1 a.m., being the Singapore Cup, 
valued $1 50, and Mr. W. H. Read rode the winner. The 



races were held on the same course as now, but the stand 
was on the Serangoon Road side. A race ball followed 
on the succeeding Monday, at the residence of the; 
Recorder, and the advertisement in the Free Press 
especially mentions " Full Dress." 

In the same year, March 1843, there was a regatta, 
with an entry of ten yachts, an account of it being given 
in Admiral Keppel's book. 

Cricket was apparently played before this, for there 
is mention in 1837 of objection to some Europeans who 
played the game on the Esplanade on Sunday. It fell 
then into abeyance, for in 1843 it is recorded : " We 
have lately been much gratified by seeing the manly 
game of cricket resumed in this Settlement," a match 
being played between Singaporeans and the Dido. 
Towards the end of 1852 a meeting was held to establish 
the Singapore Cricket Club. A Young Men's Cricket 
Club on the Esplanade in 1 87 1 was no doubt the precursor 
of the Singapore Recreation Club. 

The New Year's Regatta, the precursor of our New Year 
Sports, was first held in 1834. The paper for 1837 con- 
tained a long account of that year's events. In 1839 
there were both shore and water sports, which Buckley 
says did not differ much from those of the present day — 
'' except that it was then a day set apart by the mercan- 
tile community to amuse the natives only " — which is 
surely their purpose to this day. 

Lawn tennis is so modern a game that it is not even 
mentioned in Buckley, the same silence befalling foot- 

Swimming is first mentioned in 1866, when Mr. W. R. 
Scott allowed the use of his fresh-water bath at Abbots- 
ford to certain subscribers. A staked bathing-place 
lasted for a year or two in the 'Sixties on a sand bank on 
the beach at Tanjong Katong, Mr. Charles Crane being 
the working member to carry out the wishes of subscribers 
at a meeting held to further the object in that year. 

There was a gynmastic club in Scott's Road in the 
'Sixties, Mr. T. S. Thomson being Secretary and 


Treasurer, and as the Tanglin Club was established in 
1865, in Stevens Road, no doubt there was a bowling 
alley attached to it then. 

Here is a review taken from a newspaper in 1885, 
which gives an idea of the attitude of the clubs then as 
compared with the past : 

" In social matters a perfect revolution has been 
effected. Where formerly a miniature tent and a small 
boy stood on the Esplanade ready to accommodate any 
adventurous cricketer, there is now a neat pavilion, 
already far too small, and practically the whole European 
community present, eager each evening to indulge in 
whatever may be the favourite sport. The Eurasian 
community have followed suit on the east side of the 
Esplanade ; and so have the Chinese on Hong Lim's 
Green, where they may be seen playing cricket and lawn 
tennis in the evening ; and a pavilion is just rising from 
the ground for their club. Last, but certainly not least, 
the fair sex make the old Dhoby Green, in Orchard 
Road, into an arena for a scientific display of lawn tennis, 
which attracts not only many players but sympathetic 
admirers as well. On the other hand, the fives court, 
which used to be the evening haunt of many choice 
spirits, is never opened. In its place we find the Rowing 
Club, whilst a polo club has just been started with every 
prospect of success. The Racing Club is still to the fore, 
but its calibre has not improved since the days of 
' Sydney,' ' Toxophilite ' and ' Cavanagh.' The 
Town Club, however, has greatly changed for the better. 
Formerly commenced in one of the old houses on the 
beach, it was moved from one small upstairs room in the 
Square to another, and has now a large handsome build- 
ing close to Johnston's Pier ; its members, which were 
few and almost exclusively commercial, are now large, 
and its constitution quite cosmopolitan. 

" On the other hand, the happy family of the past 
has followed the tendency of the age and broken up 
into cliques, who have few social pursuits in common 
outside the limits of their club grounds and premises. 
Not many years ago everybody was acquainted with 
all the other residents, and what concerned one con- 
cerned all, whether for weal or woe. Things now move 



H. 322 


a great deal too fast, and the race for livelihood is too 
keen for busy men to find time to acquire an intimate 
knowledge of their many neighbours and take an interest 
in their affairs. A few formal dinners during the year 
for civility's sake disposes of all that is considered due 
to Society, the rest of the time being devoted to a small 
knot of intimates, who alone are known and cared for, 
and who form one of the little worlds revolving round 
the sun of Government House. 

" Increase of Europeans and daily dependence on the 
telegraph lines have, therefore, in this respect, brought 
about the reverse of improvement. Kindly actions, 
friendly deeds, and charitable thoughts become gradually 
less year by year, whilst the little worlds in their ill- 
governed circuits of revolution collide and give out 
showers of mud and squibs, instead of friendly streams 
of light." 

Towards the end of 1 852 a meeting was called to estab- 
lish a Cricket Club. Tradition — well-founded — has it 
that the cricketers used to keep their gear in a part of 
the Masonic Hall, then at the corner of Coleman Street, 
and there was no bar. Later a tent used to be pitched 
for the players and a tamby dispensed refreshments 
obtained from the hotel. A pavilion was next built 
under the big trees at the western corner of the Esplanade, 
and remained there till towards the end of the 'Seventies. 
The next was built in the middle of the end of the ground, 
and was in existence from 1877 to 1884. The third was 
built on the present site, but occupied very much less 
space. Finally the present pavilion was built, using the 
centre block of the old building and being opened in 
1907. The cost was $48,415, and many members con- 
tributed to the furnishing of the building. What was 
the early membership of the S.C.C. is not to be found, 
but by 1 89 1 there were 378 members, increased to 518 
by 1 90 1, 762 in 191 1, and reaching the highest point in 
the year war broke out, 878. 

According to the 1861 Directory, the Singapore Cricket 
Club was established in 1859, and the membership given 
in the Directory comprised twenty-eight names, given 


in full, with George Armstrong as Secretary. This is the 
George Armstrong mentioned in Buckley, who died in 
Manila in 1901. Among the well-remembered members 
in 1 861 were C. E. Crane, James Lyall, J. M. Purvis, and 
Sam Gilfillan. In 1864 W. Allen was Secretary and 
Treasurer; in 1866 Thos. O. Wright, who, according 
to the early Colonial records, applied to Government for 
permission to relay a portion of the cricket ground. 
In 1868 E. B. Souper, an accountant in the Chartered 
Bank, was Secretary and Treasurer, and he applied to 
Government for permission to build a pavilion, but it was 
not erected till 1877. No list of Committee is given. 
In 1875 R. G. Stiven was Secretary, and enthusiastic 
members carried on the honorary duties of the office 
throughout the early history of the Club. The Govern- 
ment letter stating the terms on which the Club is allowed 
to use Raffles Plain is dated the 9th March 1891. 

In the past forty years the Club has held a high 
position among the young men, and among its officers 
are to be found the names of those who became in other 
ways famous such as, John Anderson, E. W. Birch, 
C. Stringer, and E. M. Merewether, but the record for 
service is surely held by Mr. G. P. Owen, who joined the 
Committee in 1880, when. Mr. John Anderson was 
President, and has held the post of Honorary Secretary 
or Secretary ever since 1886, save for brief intervals of 
leave, when Mr. C. J. Davies, J. M. Fabris, and F. Deason 
acted for him. 

The Club has been first of all for cricket ; but other 
branches of sport were brought in, such as Association 
football in the late 'Eighties, hockey in 1893, l^wn bowls, 
and, first of all, lawn tennis. Athletic sports were 
vigorously encouraged, though not held regularly. In 
1 89 1 C. H. Lightfoot was the champion athlete with 
forty points, in 1893 Allen Dennys with twenty-six, 
his brother Freddy running him close with twenty-four 
points. F. O. B. Dennys came on in later years, being 
champion in 1895 with thirty-seven points, H. A. E. 
Thomson second with twenty-nine points ; but Freddy's 


best year was 1 896, when he won the hundred yards, the 
hurdles, the 1 50 yards, 220 yards, and the broad jump — 
fifty-one points. Interest fell off in athletics from then, 
and though good paper entries were secured, the starter 
found few under his pistol on the day. Athletic 
gymkhanas were held in 1908 (R. L. Cuscaden winning 
the Championship Cup) and in 191 3, when the best 
men were L. G. Byatt and R. G. Pash. 

Having taken a general view of the establishment of 
sports and games in Singapore, we now turn to the 
individual games and the clubs associated with them. 


The Esplanade and cricket have always been associ- 
ated, the ground being shared by the S.C.C. and S.R.C. 
It must be remembered, however, that the old Esplanade 
was but half as wide as the present. According to 
Coleman's map of 1835, the widest part between the 
roads was less than 80 yards, and in the 'Eighties Sir 
Stamford Raffles 's Statue stood nearly on the edge of 
the sea — it was placed there on the 27th June 1887, and 
the new ground took a lot of preparation before it was 
fit to be played on. In 1 890 it is recorded that the S.C.C. 
decided to have two lawn tennis tournaments a year 
'* now that the Esplanade has been enlarged." 

The first recorded cricket match was played on the 
14th October 1852, under the title of " A Picked Eleven 
against the Club." There were six on one side and nine 
on the other. The picked lot made 1 1 in the first 
innings and i in the second ; and the Club, making 14 
and 12, won easily. The second match was played a 
week later, under the title of '* A Scratch Match between 
Sixteen Gentlemen." There were eight on each side, 
and the totals were more respectable. One side made 
52 and 18, and the other 49 and 53. Lieutenant J. W. 
Rideout (Staff Officer of the 43rd M.N.I.) made 37 not 
out and 1 1 , and was the hero of the match ; Robert 
Harvey (McEwen and Co.) 24 not out, did the best on 
the other side. 


In March 1853 the first eleven-a-side match was 
played. The sides comprised three Armstrongs, three 
Cranes, John Little, Thomas Scott (Guthrie and Co.), 
Archie J. Spottiswoode (Wm. Spottiswoode and Co.), 
F. A. Brett (Ensign 43rd M.N. I.), Robert Harvey 
(McEwen and Co.), Robert Jardine (Syme and Co.), 
James Watson (Guthrie and Co.), R. B. Read, H. W. 
Wood (Syme and Co.), F. W. Dobree (Ensign 43rd 
M.N. I.), C. H. Wilsone, J. Sparkes (P. and O. Company), 
Lieutenant Rideout, and J. M. Purvis (John Purvis 
and Son). 

No further matches are recorded in the score book 
till June i860, when the Club played a match against 
the Garrison, consisting of the 40th Madras Native 
Infantry and the nth Punjaub Infantry. The Club 
won by 76 runs, their top scorers being : D. Paterson 
(Middleton, Harrison and Co.) 26, J. Murray (Syme and 
Co.) 25, J. S. G. Jellicoe (P. and O. Company) 15, and 
J. W. Armstrong (George Armstrong and Co.) 15 runs. 

In September 1863 the Club played a team from 
H.M.S. Severn, a frigate, and beat them by 78 runs : 
J. Murray 24, T. S. Thomson (John Purvis and Son) 17, 
C. Crane (Stelling, Hooglandt and Co.) 17, and Sherwood 
(Chartered Bank) 15. 

In April 1865 a hundred runs were made for the first 
time as the total of one innings The occasion was a 
match between the Royal Artillery and the Singapore 
Cricket Club. The former scored 88 and 72 and the 
latter 1 10 and 47, an exciting match ending in favour 
of the Artillery by three runs. The top scorers for 
the S.C.C. were L. J. R. Glass 29 and 10, and James 
Greig 2 1 and 2 . 

In April 1867 the Club played a match against the 
Army and Navy, the ships in harbour being H.M.S. 
Wasp, a sloop, and H.M.S. Satellite, a corvette. The 
S.C.C. scored 238 in their first innings, L. R. Glass 
going in first and carrying his bat for the magnificent 
score of 118 not out, A. D. Forbes 36, E. J. Smith 10, 
and C. B. Buckley (A. L. Johnston and Co.) 12. The 




match was not finished owing to the two ships leaving 
the port. Glass's 118 was the first time the 50 mark 
was passed, and the century was not again reached till 
1 87 1, when E. H. Watts, Civil Service, made 1 1 1 against 
the loth Regiment, and 1885, E. W. Birch 131 against 
the R.A. 

Cricket was in its hey-day in the 'Nineties. Big 
matches were arranged against the Native States 
and the neighbouring colonies of Hongkong, Ceylon, 
and Shanghai. In January 1890 the S.C.C. sent a team 
up to Hongkong, which suffered defeat at the hands 
of both Hongkong and Shanghai. The following year, 
at Singapore, the Straits had their revenge against 
Hongkong, beating that team as well as Colombo, 
and Colombo beating Hongkong, while the Straits 
drew against a combined team of Hongkong and Colombo, 
a similar result following in the match Ceylon v. Native 
States. The cricket lasted a fortnight in this year. 
Mr. G. P. Owen, who had been Secretary of the Club 
and had arranged these matches, was given a complimen- 
tary dinner when going on leave in 1893. 

Among the records of the Club is a list of averages 
from 1868, in the handwriting of Sir Ernest Birch. 
It shows that L. R. Glass headed the averages in 1868, 
1 869, and 1 870, R. W. Maxwell (Police) and A. M. Skinner 
(Colonial Secretary) coming next. F. A. Swettenham 
was second in 1871 and first in 1872. E. W. Birch 
appears in the first three in 1880 and 1881, and among 
others are the names of Dr. T. C. Mugliston (Colonial 
Surgeon), P. T. Evatt .(later of Lyall and Evatt), and 
E. M. Merewether. Between 1878 and 1887 Birch 
played 133 innings, ten times not out, made 2,741 runs, 
a;nd bowling i, 020*3 overs secured 288 wickets at the 
cost of 8*2 runs per wicket. 

It was perhaps due to an exhibition given on the 
Esplanade on the 25th February 1882 by Lord Harris, 
Lord Zouche, and Mr.Tufnell that the revival was due. 
In that year a purse was presented to Mr. C. Stringer in 
appreciation of his services as Hon. Secretary to the 
II — 22 


S.C.C., and on the occasion of his wedding to Miss 
McNair. The Perak cricket team came down at 
Christmas 1889, and early in the next year the Straits 
team left on a visit to Hongkong. At the end of the 
year the inter-Colonial cricket matches were started, 
Hongkong and Colombo both coming here, and the game 
reigned supreme for a fortnight. In October 1892 the 
P. and O. Bokhara was lost on its way back to Hongkong 
with the Hongkong cricket team that had gone up to 
Shanghai to play that Settlement. In the following 
October (1893) the Straits visited Ceylon, and the match 
at Christmas was versus Penang. August 1895 saw the 
S.C.C. visiting Batavia, and in October 1897 ^ Straits 
team went to Hongkong, and had the satisfaction of 
beating both Hongkong and Shanghai, and also a com- 
bined team of the two by an innings and 231 runs. The 
S.C.C. cricket tournaments were instituted in 1898, 
and did much to improve the game. The shield given 
by a member was first won by the S.V.A., skippered by 
Captain W. G. St. Clair. It was in one of these matches, 
in 1907, that R. T. Reid (Paterson, Simons) put up 
the record score of 234 not out for the Merchants against 
the Garrison. Perak and Penang came down to Singa- 
pore in 1900, the home team suffering defeat by two 
wickets and one respectively. Selangor came in 
1 90 1, and we won by a wicket and two runs. It was 
in this match, we believe, that J. D. Saunders smacked 
Lawrie Dougal for eleven in two hits, off consecutive 
balls, much to the astonishment of the fast bowler, 
this hard hitting being only approached by " Slogger " 
Parsons (now a Brigadier-General, A.O.D.), who used 
to make a practice of breaking the tiles on the Municipal 
Offices. 1 90 1 saw Singapore beat Perak handsomely 
by an innings and 123 runs. Two years Selangor was 
defeated, both at cricket and football, the latter game 
being associated with visiting teams since 1900. 

A point worthy of note about this time was the fine 
cricket played by H. L. Talbot, who skippered the 
Straits teams for the Hongkong and Shanghai matches. 


The players included G. P. Stevens (a lawyer in partner- 
ship with S. R. Groom), A. B. Hubback (made a Brigadier- 
General during the War, to which he went from, the 
F.M.S.), M. H. Whitley, A. J. Woodroffe, R.E., T. R. 
Hubback, and J. G. Mactaggart, then in Latham and 
Mactaggart, brokers. Talbot had a fine record. He 
won both batting average prizes in 1892. The report 
for 1893 says: " A new bowler is wanted if the Club 
is to return to its old form " ; but that may have been the 
reflection of the announcement that three centuries had 
been scored in the season, H. L. Talbot being responsible 
for 134 and 1 17. Perhaps as a further result J. G. Mac- 
taggart was encouraged as a bowler, for he won the 
prize in 1895 for getting wickets at the cost of 6*79, Eric 
Maxwell coming next to him with an average of 9*2. 

It is recorded in 1896 that the Club did not lose a 
match during the year, and in 1898 seventy first team 
and thirty-nine second team games were played. 
1902 was another good year, Singapore playing Shanghai, 
Perak, Penang, and Selangor, E. Bradbery having the 
fine figure of sixty wickets at an average of 5*2 runs. 
The very next year, too, we beat the Negri Sembilan 
by an innings and 353, H. W. Noon making 117 and 
L. B. Hannaford 91. R. T. Reid had the fine batting 
average of 57*3, as well as taking forty wickets at an 
average cost of 8*7 runs. 

In 1903 the Swettenham Trophy was given by Sir 
Frank Swettenham, to be open to competition by repre- 
sentatives of the clubs at Singapore, Penang, Malacca, 
Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, and Pahang, playing 
in all inter-State, inter-Settlement, or inter-Colony or 
State cricket. It is awarded annually in December or 
January for " all-round excellence of the cricket played 
and the knowledge of the game displayed by each 
eleven." Singapore scored the first win, but Perak 
got it in 1906. The S.C.C. have won it seven times, 
Penang four times, Perak, Selangor, and Negri Sembilan 
once each. 

In 1904 the Straits repeated the trick at Hongkong 


of beating both Shanghai and Hongkong, whilst at 
Easter in the same year Penang and Perak visited 
Singapore for the last time, and were very severely 
defeated. The tables were reversed when at Christmas 
Singapore went to Penang, also for the last time. In 
the game against Perak at Taiping a very fine innings 
was played by Capt. E. I. M. Barrett, at that time 
stationed there ; he put up 155. 

The only visit to Burma by the Straits was in Decem- 
ber 1906, the home team winning both cricket matches 
and the tennis doubles, Singapore having to be content 
with the tennis singles. The only outstanding feature 
of the cricket in so far as the Straits were concerned 
was a useful 75 by W. Dunman, who was first in and 
last out, also his last appearance in a representative 
match for Singapore. 

The days of long excursions were now over, and the 
chief matches were between the parts of the Peninsula 
the Colony v. the F.M.S. series being inaugurated. 
The States won the first match by five wickets. The 
matches were played annually up to 19 14, and the records 
show that the States won in 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 
1909 (twice), 1 9 10, and 191 1. The Straits won in 1907. 
1908, 1911, 1912, and 1914; draws in 1910 and 1913. 
Two matches were played in some years. The game 
played at Easter 191 2 in Singapore was remarkable 
for the 109 of Dr. Scharenguival. In one over from 
M. K. Foster he put up 25. 

The series Singapore v. Selangor commenced in 
1900. The results are that Selangor w^on in 1900, 1902, 
1914 ; Singapore secured victories in 1901, 1903, 1904, 
1905* i907> 1908 (by an innings and 47), 191 1, and 191 2 ; 
not played in 1906 and 1909; draws in 1910 and 191 3. 

In November 1909 Messrs. Noble, Laver, Cotter, 
Armstrong, and Hopkins returned to Australia via 
Singapore, after the conclusion of the Australian tour 
in England that year, and played two games on the 
Esplanade, much to the interest of the cricketing 


Next year the Colony could only make a draw with 
the F.M.S., in favour of the latter. Although the Colony 
versus F.M.S. matches were looked upon as of more 
importance, Singapore continued to play odd games 
with Selangor, Negri Sembilan, and Malacca, that in 
August 191 2, at Kuala Lumpur, being notable for an 
innings of 98 by A. Jenkins, while the game in Singapore 
in August 191 3 was remarkable for an innings of 126 
not out by R. L. L. Braddell. His innings materially 
affected the game, as overnight Singapore had lost 
six wickets for 70 runs, while the innings eventually 
closed next day for 295. 

In the later years A. Jenkins, 191 1 -12, stands out 
as a sound bat. He won the average prize in both 
years, sixteen innings with an average of 45*3, and 
next season average 48, his highest score being 150. 
In 1 91 4 four centuries were made, R. E. H. Oliver 
being responsible for two of them, R. L. L. Braddell 
and J. A. Scharenguival for the other two. 

Another trophy, known as the Paget Cup, was pre- 
sented in 1909 by Sir Ralph Paget, British Minister 
in Bangkok, for competition between the Straits and 
Siam. Owing to the difficulty of travel only two games 
have been played. That in January 1909, in Singapore, 
was won by Siam by 39, while the return at Bangkok, 
in December 191 3, resulted in an easy win for the Straits. 

Lawn Tennis 

The S.C.C. Lawn Tennis Championship was established 
in 1875, and in 1880 E. W. Birch wrested it from J. R. 
d 'Almeida, the holder. The two tournaments a year 
date from the widening of the Esplanade (1890), and 
a list of the winners from 1884 shows that G. P. Owen 
won it at the Spring Tournament that year, and eight 
times subsequently up to as late as 1893. R- W. 
Braddell won it three times in 1884-5, and then again 
five times between 1894 and 1898. A. H. Capper (Civil 
Service), a wearisome but accurate lobber, won it four 
times. Captain Ainslie has four wins to his credit, 


1895-7, sharing honours in those years with R. W. 
Braddell. F. Salzmann and Gaunt came in with 1902, 
the former with eight wins and the latter with five. 
Is abihty at the game hereditary? At all events Mrs. 
Salzmann had won the Ladies' Championship in 1891. 
The Spring Tournament of 1909 was killed by the 
weather, and then A. D. Cox won three times in suc- 
cession. The tournaments have grown so enormously 
since then that any record of the winners of the chief 
events would be prodigious. But it must be noted 
there have been some very excellent pairs : G. S. Brown 
and J. G. Mactaggart, who beat Ingall and Stewart 
(Perak) in 1890 ; Owen and Hooper, who won the 
Profession Pairs in 1892, and beat John Anderson 
and G. Muir ; R. W. Braddell and F. M. EUiot, who 
carried off the Profession Pairs '' with ease " in 1893, 
and again in 1894, beating E. M. Merewether and 

The Law has been remarkably successful in the Pro- 
fession Pairs. R. W. Braddell and H. W. H. Gumming 
(Donaldson and Burkinshaw) wrested it from the Mer- 
chants, G. Muir (Paterson, Simons) and W. E. Hooper, 
in 1 89 1, though John Anderson and Muir recovered the 
honour in 1893, beating -R. W. Braddell and Elliot. 
The Braddell and Elliot combination then started their 
career of victory. They won the doubles handicap 
and the Profession Pairs, both tournaments of 1 894, the 
doubles championship in spring 1895, ^^^ the doubles 
handicap and the Profession Pairs at both tournaments, 
again winning the Profession Pairs in 1896, 1901, and 
1904. In 1905 Cleaver and Perkins (both Drew and 
Napier) kept the event in their hands, till Salzmann and 
L. E. Gaunt came in again to win in 1906. Upcott and 
Terrell (also Drew and Napier) won in spring 191 1, 
Gaunt and Perkins in autumn. The two Terrells beat 
another law team. Gaunt and R. L. L. Braddell in 191 3, 
Salzmann and Braddell (R.L.L.) won in i9i4> Gaunt and 
C. V. Miles (Rodyk and Davidson) in 191 5, a remarkable 
series of wins in a scratch event. 


The championships (spring and autumn) since 1910 
have been won as follows : 19 10, A. D. Cox, A. D. Cox ; 
191 1, A. D. Cox, L. E. Gaunt ; 1912, A. D. Cox, C. M. 
Howe; 191 3, F. Moding, F. Salzmann ; 1914, F. 
Salzmann ; 191 5, L. E. Gaunt ; 1916, J. A. Dean ; 1917, 
J. A. Dean ; only one contest a year taking place in 
these latter times. 

Rugby Football 

A great institution was the rugger match between 
Scotland and the rest of the world, on St. Andrew's Day. 
For the rest, the matches have been dependent on the 
rare presence of a naval team, or special visiting teams. 
Singapore v. Selangor has been played most regularly, 
the wins being Singapore in 1902, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1916, 
and 1 9 1 7 ; Selangor won in 1910, 1911, 1912, and 1 9 1 3 ; 
draws in 1905 and 1907 ; and the match iiot played in 
1914 and 1915. 

Association Football 

Association football commenced to be played by 
the engineers on a piece of ground at Tank Road about 
1889, and R. Scoular and James McKenzie used to go 
down and play with them, prominent among the first 
players of the game being J. Lawson, C. Lightfoot, of 
the O.B.C., and Raymond, of the Telegraph Company. 
The S.C.C. team was soon after formed by Scoular and 
McKenzie, and the Association Challenge Cup was estab- 
lished in 1892. An excellent team in the early days 
was put up by the S.V.A., and included such stalwarts as 
Scoular, McKenzie, Allen Dennys, Plumpton, and later 
took in some excellent bank men. The team in one 
season scored 87 goals, only 5 being registered against 
it. The winners of the Association Challenge' Cup since 
the beginning have been : 1892, Royal Engineers ; 1894, 
Lincolns ; 1895, Royal Artillery ; 1896, Fusiliers ; 1897, 
Rifle Brigade ; 1898, R.A. ; 1899, K.O. Regiment ; 1900, 
1 2th Company R.G.A. ; 1901, S.C.C. ; 1902, R.A. ; 
1903, S.C.C; 1904, Harlequins; 1905, Sherwoods ; 


1906, Sherwoods ; 1907, B Team West Kents ; 
1908, West Kents ; 1909, Middlesex ; 1910, Middlesex; 
1911, Buffs; 1912, Buffs; 1913, K.O.Y.L.I. ; 1916, 
Shropshires. The first Singapore v. Johore match was 
played in 1 894. 

The military teams have always made a good fight 
for the cup. On one occasion the two teams, the West 
Kents, we think, played about eight matches before 
spoiling the record of repeated draws. About the fifth 
time the reason for the extraordinary record began to 
dawn on the authorities. The Tommies got off to town 
for the day with expenses paid down, they were well 
entertained, and had a chance to make a bit on the book. 
Why, then, spoil a good thing ? A decision was finally 
arrived at on the second time of playing on the Tanglin 

The Football League was started in 1904, and also had 
a good effect in stimulating interest in the game. Gener- 
ally the military teams have pulled off the event. 

The native population took to the game very kindly, 
and established their own league games, Malay and 
Chinese, and the matches are generally pretty hard- 
fought games. 

In the classic matches, Singapore z;. Selangor, the results 
of games have been : no results for 1900, 1902, and 1905 ; 
Singapore won in 1 90 1 , 1 904, 1 907, 1 908, 1 9 1 1 , and 1 9 1 3 ; 
Selangor won in 191 2 ; draws in 1903, 1906, and 1910 ; 
not played in 1909. 


The game was introduced in 1 892, the first game being 
played on the 28th November. It has had man}^ fluctu- 
ations, a good player like Mr. H. A. Mason, or an enthu- 
siast like Percy Gold (Evatt & Co., killed at the front 
in 191 7), or a good hockey regiment, helping to keep 
up the interest. In 1906, for instance, over fifty games 
were played, and evoked considerable enthusiasm. The 
matches against Selangor have resulted as follows : 
Selangor won in 1904, 1909, and 191 3 ; Singapore won 


in 1906 and 191 1 ; draws in 1907, 1908, 1910, and 

Lawn Bowls 

This game was first played in the 'Seventies, prominent 
among the players being M. S. Taylor, G. P. Owen, C. 
Paterson, and C. H. Lightfoot. It was revived in 1898, 
and tournaments have since been pretty regular^ 
held, when, if not large in number, the entries prove the 
presence of a number of keen players. 


This game presupposes a sufficient number of trained 
ponies, plenty of good riders and keen sportsmen, and 
some amount of money to keep up the stables. All 
three have not been uniformly found in Singapore, and 
the cult of polo has therefore flourished and decayed 
from time to time, depending upon the energy of a few 
players and often the presence of a sporting regiment. 
The game was introduced in 1886, E. W. Birch (now Sir 
Ernest Birch) being Secretary pro tern. W. C. Symes, of 
the P. & O. Company, was a great supporter of the game 
then. But apparently the game was dropped, for we 
find the Club in 1904 claiming t9 have been formed only 
in 1899. The game was flourishing in 1904, it being 
stated that there were twenty-four players, each with 
two ponies. They asked for a third day a week, on 
the Racecourse, the Raffles Reclamation ground being too 
narrow. Captain C. R. Molyneux therefore asked the 
Sporting Club for more facihties. The Golf Club pointed 
out that their players averaged forty-six a day, and that 
they could not see their way to giving up the other day. 
Eventually a new ground was found in Balestier Road, 
and several successful gymkhanas and games were played 
there. The King's Own Regiment were great sports, 
and the Club flourished during their stay, and when they 
left a cup, keen contests followed. Then Sir Frank 
Swettenham was a great supporter of the game, and the 
contests with Selangor were generally full of interest. 


In 1900 Prince Henry of Prussia, who was out here in 
the Deutschlandy joined in a game, and presented a 
cup to the Club. In 1 90 1 , the CiviUans beat Civil Service ; 
1902, Civil Service beat Garrison ; 1903, Civilians beat 
Military ; 1904, Manchesters beat Club ; 1905, Singapore 
beat Selangor ; in the following 3^ears the winners were 
Club, Club, Civilians, Middlesex, Middlesex, Selangor, and 
in 191 2 Singapore beat Selangor. H.H. the Sultan of 
Johore formed a ground at Tyersall, and several 
gymkhanas were held there, the first occasion being 
given as the i8th February 1898. 

Mr. C. Sugden, of the Borneo Co., was one of the 
hardest workers of the Sporting Club, and highly 
esteemed, though rather shy and reserved. An instance 
of this is called to mind that when the Duke and 
Duchess of York came to Singapore, a polo match was 
arranged with those accompanying the Royal party, the 
Club members finding the ponies, and Prince Adolphus 
of Teck being one of the visiting team. Mr. Sugden, as 
President of the Club, should have met the royal party, 
but he could not be induced to undergo the ordeal, and 
delegated Mr. G. P. Owen to do the honours. In 1898, 
when Mr. Sugden went on leave, the members subscribed 
a sum of money with which to purchase a souvenir of 
his services as Chairman of Committee and Clerk of the 

In the time of the Sultan Abubakar of Johore, when 
Tyersall was kept up in state, there was a drag hunt. 
The Sultan imported a pack of hounds, and A. Holley had 
the training of them, but the climate proved too much 
for well-bred dogs. Later a pack of beagles was 
imported, but they did not stand the climate any better. 
In the early 'Eighties a " Hunt Club Race" was included 
in the race meeting, and the members took part in it 
in their hunt uniform, dark green coat, brass buttons, 
black velvet peaked caps, white breeches, and top boots. 
Paper-chasing was the next form of horsemanship, and 
at times this has been keenly enjoyed; but the advent of 
the motor-car and the disuse of other than racing horses 


have caused even this mild form of exercise to fall into 

Ladies' Lawn Tennis Club 

The Ladies' Lawn Tennis Club, according to the papers, 
was started by Mr. A. L. Donaldson (Donaldson and 
Burkinshaw), and by the 4th October 1884 the Club had 
seven courts going on Dhoby Ghaut — the same place 
as now, but infinitely more in the country, as the Museum 
was not in existence, the stream ran between earthen 
banks, and hardly one of the houses round Dhoby 
Ghaut was built. Mrs. G. P. Owen (then Mrs. Dare) 
lived at Carrington House, on the hill, and took great 
interest in the new Club. The minute-book shows the 
first meeting to have been held on the 30th July 1884, 
at Mrs. Rowell's house, there being present Mrs. Rowell, 
Mrs. Merewether (now Lady Merewether), Miss Donald- 
son (who became Mrs. P. T. Evatt), Mr. G. T. Addis 
(Mercantile Bank), and Mr. E. W. Birch (Sir Ernest 
Birch now). Mrs. Clementi Smith was invited to become 
Lady Patroness and Mr. Cecil Clementi Smith, Acting 
Governor, to become an honorary member. The minutes 
are confirmed as by M. G. Rowell, Chairman — this was 
before the claim to a full equality of the sexes was 
established. The first tournament was decided on at 
Mrs. Guthrie Davidson's house, and Mrs. Dare was one 
of the handicappers. Tournaments succeeded in regular 
succession, many handsome prizes being given. Mr. T. 
Cuthbertson gave a championship tray of the value of 
$1 50, to replace one won outright by Miss Dennys (now 
Lady Murray). Mr. Cuthbertson 's prize was won by 
Mrs. Howard Bentley, and H.H. the Sultana of Johore 
gave a cup valued $200. Miss Dennys won the cham- 
pionship three times, and once after she was married 
(1896) ; Mrs. Lovell (wife of D. W. Lovell, of McKerrow 
and Co.) nine times ; Mrs. W. P. Waddell (a daughter of 
Colonel S. Dunlop) ten times ; Mrs. Saunders won it 
in 1 90 1, again in 1907, 1908, and 191 2. The other winners 
since 1906 are Mrs. Gansloser, Mrs Holden (twice), 


Mrs. Ransford, Miss Feindel (twice), Mrs. Vowler 
(three times, 1915,1917,1918), and Mrs. Ferguson, 1 9 1 6. 
The Government permission to occupy the ground is 
dated the, 29th May 1884. The paviHon was estimated 
to cost, painted and furnished, $632. 

The Singapore Golf Club 

The first definite proposal with regard to the formation 
of a Golf Club was made at the annual general meeting of 
the Sporting Club held in the Exchange Rooms on the 
30th January 1 891 . Mr. Justice Goldney and Mr. R. N. 
Bland were prime movers in the matter, and proposed 
and seconded respectively the following resolution : 

** That this meeting approves of the Committee of the 
Singapore Sporting Club allowing golf to be played by 
members of the Singapore Sporting Club upon the Race- 
course, subject to such play being under the control of 
the Singapore Sporting Club Committee.*' 

The resolution met with general approval, and after 
a long discussion was agreed to ; but it was definitely 
laid down that golf must not in any way interfere with 
racing or training at the course at any hour of the day, 
and that the game must be played by members of the 
Sporting Club only. Mr. Justice Goldney, Mr. Bland, 
and Mr. G. P. Owen met at the Racecourse on the ist 
February 1891, went over the ground, and selected sites 
for nine greens and nine teeing-grounds, and on the follow- 
ing day one coolie was engaged at a salary of $7 per 
month to prepare the links. 

. The above three gentlemen met at the Land Office, 
Government Buildings, on the 24th February, and it 
was agreed that Mr. Owen would act as Honorary 
Secretary and Mr. Bland as Honorary Treasurer. It was 
also agreed to write to the following gentlemen, inviting 
them to join a provisional committee : Hon. Major 
McCallum, R.E., C.M.G., Major Rich, R.A., Colonel Ellis, 
Hon. Mr. J. Finlayson, Hon. Mr. G. S. Murray, Mr. Justice 
Goldney, Messrs. R. N. Bland, J. R. Cuthbertson, Jas. 

n. 338] 

(Sir John Goldney). 
Caricature by R. W. Braddell. 


Miller, W. E. Hooper, C. G. Paterson, A. W. Stiven, C. 
Stringer, A. P. Talbot, and G. Bruce Webster, with Mr. G. 
P. Owen as Honorary Secretary. 

A meeting of this provisional committee was held on 
the ist April, when it was decided to support the forma- 
tion of the Golf Club. Mr. Justice Goldney was elected 
Chairman of the provisional committee, and it was agreed 
to charge an entrance fee of $2, and that the subscription 
be $6 per annum. 

A general meeting of members of the Club was held 
in May, when the following officers were elected : Presi- 
dent, Mr. Justice Goldney ; Hon. Secretary, Mr. G. P. 
Owen ; Hon. Treasurer, Mr. R. N. Bland ; Committee : 
Major Rich, R.A., Hon. Mr. J. Finlayson, Hon. Mr. 
J. W. Bonser, Messrs. James Meikle, C. G. Paterson, and 
C. Sugden. 

The formal opening of the Club took place on the 1 7th 
June 1 89 1, when a match was arranged. Mr. G. P. 
Owen resigned the hon. secretaryship in August, and Mr. 
J. B. Robertson was elected as his successor. Mr. J. 
B. Robertson was the first Captain of the Club, but 
was not elected to that office until the annual general 
meeting of 1 893. Mr. Robertson is still a keen golfer, and 
is to-day Captain of the Golf Club at Medan. The total 
membership of the Golf Club on the 31st December 1891 
was sixty. During the year the following competitions 
and matches were played : Handicap, won by Mr. A. 
Mackay ; Scotland v. the World, won by Scotland by six 
holes ; Married v. Single, won by Married by twenty 
holes ; President's Prize, won by Mr. J. W. Bonser ; the 
Club Championship (commenced September 1891), won 
by Mr. J. B. Robertson. 

At the suggestion of the Penang Golf Club the Straits 
Golf Challenge Cup, which eventually developed into 
the Interport Challenge Shield, was instituted, and 
the match was played at Christmas. The conditions 
agreed on were that the competition should be played 
between four representatives of each Club over one 
round (nine holes) of the course ; the Club gaining the 


aggregate majority of holes to be the winner, and to 
hold the cup for the ensuing year. The first match 
was played at Singapore at Christmas 1891, and resulted 
as follows : 



Mr. J. B. Robertson 

. 2 holes 

Mr. D. A. M. Brown 

. holes 

„ P. A. GHlespie . 

. I „ 

„ A. L. M. Scott . 

. „ 

Major Rich 

. 2 „ 

„ A. G. Wright . 

. ., 

Mr. A. W. Stiven . 

I » 

„ E. W. Presgrave 

• „ 

The Penang Club was also instrumental in starting 
the Straits Golf Championship, a competition open to 
members of both clubs, to be decided by the best score 
by strokes over two rounds of the course (eighteen holes), 
the winner to be entitled to hold the championship 
of the Straits Settlements for the ensuing year. The 
first championship was played at Singapore, and was 
won by Mr. A. L. M. Scott, of Penang, who returned 
a net score of 91, which in those days was considered 
a very fine performance. Mr. J. B. Robertson, Singa- 
pore Golf Club, was second, with a score of 94. The 
Club did not in those days possess a pavilion, so the 
members had to make use of the Sporting Club stands 
as dressing-rooms. Liquid refreshments were unobtain- 
able, so it was decided to make Wednesdays and Satur- 
days club days, and on these days refreshments were 
obtainable by members on their signing chits. Wed- 
nesdays and Saturdays soon proved to be the favourite 
golfing days. There are two gentlemen still in the 
Colony who, if not original members of the Club, joined 
soon after its formation, Mr. W. E. Hooper and Mr. 
James Drysdale. Mr. Hooper still takes an active 
interest in the Club, and is a member of the present 

Mr. Justice Goldney was re-elected President for 
the year 1892, and the Committee were : J. MacRitchie, 
P. A. Gillespie, C. G. Paterson, A. W. Stiven, J. Miller, 
and J. Meikle, with J. B. Robertson Hon. Secretary 
and R. 'N. Bland Hon. Treasurer. Mr. Justice Goldney 


left the Colony in May i'892, and Mr. MacRitchie was 
elected President. 

The Straits Championship was won by Dr. T. S. Kerr, 
with a score of 93. 

At the annual general meeting held on the 30th January 
1893 the following officers were elected : President, 
Sir Elliot C. Bovill ; Captain, J. B. Robertson ; Hon. 
Secretary, Mr. J. W. B. Maclaren ; Hon. Treasurer, 
Mr. P. A. Gillespie ; Committee : Messrs. C. Stringer, 
J. M. Allinson, R. Dunman, Surgeon-Captain Hindle, 
and Hon. Mr. J. W. Bonser. 

Mr. MacRitchie was again President of the Club in 
May 1893. The subscription was raised to $1 per 
month. The Monthly Medal Competitions commenced 
in March 1893, but no prize was given to the winner. 
The membership of the Club had by this time increased 
considerably, and the want of a club house caused great 
inconvenience to the members. Many schemes were 
submitted, but all fell through, and it was not until 
a joint meeting of delegates of the Sporting Club and 
the Golf Club met that any really feasible scheme was 
brought forward. Messrs. Adams, Cadell, and Carr 
represented the Sporting Club, and Messrs. MacRitchie 
and Maclaren the Golf Club. The Committee of the 
Sporting Club agreed to erect a building at a cost not 
to exceed $3,000, and to maintain the same, the 
Golf Club to pay a rental of $20 per month, the rent to 
be increased if it was found that $20 per month was not 
sufficient to pay 6 per cent, on the capital and the 
maintenance. The offer of the Sporting Club was 
accepted, and the Club House was erected and formally 
opened on the 2 7th January 1 894. In 1 893 it was decided 
to limit the membership of the Club to 150, and that 
the Interport Match, Penang v. Singapore, should be an 
eighteen hole instead of a nine hole match. Penang won 
by 5 holes. Mr. A. W. Stiven, representing the Singapore 
Golf Club, won the Straits Championship with a score 
of 88. The Club Championship was won by Captain 
Barter. Dr. Mugliston won the March Medal and 


Mr. W. E. Hooper the Bonser Cup. In 1894 Penang 
won the Interport by 2 holes, and Mr. David Brown, 
representing Penang, won the Straits Championship, 
with a score of 92. The record of the hnks to date 
was 9 holes, 39 ; 18 holes, 84, these scores being 
returned by both Mr. J. B. Robertson and Mr. A. W. 

The officers of the Club for the year 1 894 were : 
President, Mr. J. MacRitchie ; Captain, Mr. A. W. 
Stiven; Hon. Secretary, Mr. J. W. B. Maclaren, and 
Hon. Treasurer, Mr. J. D. Taylor. Among the medal 
winners in 1894 were Mr. H. V. M. Vade, March and 
April, and Mr. F. M. Elliot, December. In 1895 Dr. 
Fowlie was Hon. Secretary and Mr. C. Stringer was 
elected President, that post becoming vacant owing 
to the death of Mr. MacRitchie. It was in this year 
that the polo agitation recommenced. An application 
was made to the Sporting Club to allow polo to be 
played on the Racecourse. The Committees of the two 
clubs. Sporting Club and Golf Club, discussed the 
matter at a meeting, and various correspondence passed 
between the two clubs. The Golf Club stated that they 
could not agree to the proposal. The main contentions 
of the Golf Club were that polo had already been 
unsuccessfully started twice, and they did not think 
that such an established and popular club as the Golf 
Club should be interfered with, as both games could 
not be played at the same time, and polo would so 
damage a large portion of the ground as to render 
it unsuitable for golf. A special general meeting of 
members of the Golf Club was held in June, and fifty-two 
members attended. The members agreed with the 
action taken by the Committee, and passed resolutions 
to that effect by an overwhelming majority. The 
members of the Golf Club who took a prominent part 
in the discussion were Messrs. Stringer, T. Earle, A. 
Gentle, and J. M. Allinson. The result was that on 
the facts and correspondence being placed before the 
officers of the garrison interested in polo, they volun- 


tarily withdrew their appKcation for permission to 
play polo on the Racecourse. 

During Christmas week 1895 a golf tournament 
was held, visitors from Penang, Batavia, and F.M.S. 
taking part. The championship of the tournament 
was won by Mr. D. A. M. Brown, who also won the 
Straits and F.M.S. Championship. 

In 1896 Mr. Grigor Taylor was President, and Mr. 
H. V. M. Vade Captain. The Straits Championship 
played at Penang was again won by Mr. D. A. M. Brown, 
with a score of 81, up to date the lowest score on record. 

At the annual general meeting in 1897 Mr. Grigor 
Taylor was again elected President and Mr. Stiven 
Captain. Considerable discussion took place on a 
proposition to raise the subscription from $1 to $2, and 
also on an amendment that the subscription be only 
increased from $1 to $1.50. Both motions were re- 
jected, and Mr. Stiven resigned the captaincy, as there 
were not sufficient incoming funds to keep the course in 
order. Dr. Fowlie was then elected Captain. A special 
general meeting was held on the 9th April, to consider 
the financial position of the Club. It was proposed by 
the President that the entrance^fee be $2 and the sub- 
scription $2 per month. The motion was again defeated, 
whereon the officials of the Club all resigned. Members 
who took a prominent part in the discussion were Messrs. 
Grigor Taylor, W. H. Shelford, Dr. Fowlie, Mr. Justice 
Leach, E. C. Ellis, Berdoe-Wilkinson, Egerton, and 
Makepeace. Mr. C. Stringer was elected President and 
Mr. T. E. Earle Captain, with Mr. W. H. Shelford as 
Hon. Secretary. At this period of the Club's history 
" bolshevism " appeared to be very rife. Mr. D. A. M. 
Brown won the Straits Championship with a score of 81. 
This was his third win in succession. In 1897 Mr. Vade 
held the record of the links : 9 holes, 36 ; 18 holes, tj. 
In 1898 Dr. Fowhe won the Club Championship for 
the third consecutive time, and therefore was entitled 
to keep the special gold medal presented by Sir John 
Goldney. The Straits Championship was played at 


Penang, and won by Dr. Fowlie. The ladies' monthly 
medal competition commenced in April 1898, and was 
won by Mrs. J. D. Saunders. 

In December 1898 the Committee of the Sporting 
Club gave permission for polo to be played on the links 
on two days a week. Mondays and Thursdays were 
the days selected. Colonel Pennefather, Captain Duff, 
A.D.C., and Mr. Symes, of the P. & O. Company, applied 
to the Sporting Club for permission to play polo on the 
Racecourse. Copies of the correspondence and reso- 
lutions of 1895 (previously referred to) were forwarded 
to them by the Golf Club, and it was thought this would 
settle the matter ; but the then Committee of the Sport- 
ing Club, without consulting the members in general 
meeting, and against the weight of the opinion of a large 
number of members, gave permission for polo to be 
played. It is highly probable that had members been 
consulted in general meeting, permission to play polo on 
the Racecourse would never have been given. This 
action of the Sporting Club Committee was much re- 
sented by the golfing members of the Sporting Club, 
who now numbered 175, and from this date on there 
was always a certain amount of friction between the 
Sporting and Polo Clubs and the Golf Club. This was 
less prevalent when the Sporting Club was under the 
chairmanship of the late Sir Hugh Fort, and later under 
the chairmanship of Sir Evelyn Ellis all differences were 
amicably arranged. Mr. Gentle was President of the 
Club in 1899, Mr. Justice Leach in 1900 and 1901, and 
Colonel Gates in 1902. The Straits Championships were 
won by: 1899, C. J. Glassford, 84; 1900, G. Macbain, 
85 ; 1901, C. J. Glassford, 84; 1902, A. B. Stevens, 85. 

In 1903 Mr. F. Ferguson was elected Captain, and 
filled this position on many other occasions. Mr. 
Ferguson was one of the best captains the Club ever 
had, and took the keenest interest in the welfare of 
the Club. The members of the Club owe him a debt 
of gratitude for all he did for golf in the Straits Settle- 
ments. He won the Straits Championship in this 


year with a score of 79, which constituted a championship 
record. In 1904 Hon. Mr. J. M. AUinson was President, 
Mr. Oliver Marks Captain, and Mr. C. W. Spriggs Hon. 
Secretary and Treasurer. Mr. Spriggs served for two 
years, and was a most efficient and popular officer. 
On his leaving for home the members presented him 
with a gold watch as a mark of their appreciation. 
The winner of the Straits Championship was Mr. T. 
F. Longmuir, of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, 
with a score of 85. Mr. T. de M. Braddell was elected 
President in 1905. The Straits Championship in 1905 
and 1906 was won by Dr. R. A. Campbell, who each 
year returned scores of 81. The golf championship 
for all Singapore was inaugurated in 1905, and was 
won by Mr. C. V. Miles, representing Sepoy Lines Golf 
Club. In 1906 Mr. Oliver Marks was President, Mr. 
Miles Captain, and Mr. T. J. M. Greenfield Hon. Sec- 
retary and Treasurer. 

At the general meeting held in 1907, Captain Young, 
C.M.G. (now H.E. Sir Arthur Young, G.C.M.G., K.B.E.), 
was elected President, Mr. Ferguson Captain, Mr. J. 
Waddell Hon. Secretary, and Mr. Odell Hon. Treasurer. 
In electing Captain Young to the presidency of the Club, 
the members were fortunate in electing a president who 
has always taken the greatest interest in the Club, and 
has been one of the keenest golfers. H.E. Sir Arthur 
Young occupied the position as President of the Club 
continuously from April 1907 until 1919, except for 
short periods when he has been absent from the Colony, 
and there is no doubt he has been the most popular 
official the Club ever had, and has done as much as 
any other golfer to further the interests of the game of 
golf in Malaya. His Excellency won many club prizes, 
in 1906 the gold medal, and in 1909 both the Spring and 
Autumn Cups. 

In 1907 the Club House was altered and extended. 
Owing to the Racecourse being under water, the Straits 
Championship was played over the Garrison Course, and 
was won by Captain Kirkwood. 


In 1908 Sir Arthur Young was re-elected President, 
Mr. Ferguson Captain, Mr. W. J. Mayson Hon. Secretary, 
and Mr. J. Henry Hon. Treasurer. The Straits Cham- 
pionship was played at Penang, and the conditions were 
altered from eighteen to thirty-six holes. Mr. D. A. M. 
Brown, of Penang, for the fourth time won the cham- 
pionship, with the excellent score of 154. Up to date 
(1919) this score has not been beaten. 

The Straits Championship in 1909 was played at Kuala 
Lumpur, and was won by Mr. Miles, representing Singa- 
pore Golf Club, with a score of 164. In 19 10 the Captain, 
Hon. Secretary, and Hon. Treasurer retired, and Mr. 
Crabb Watt was elected Captain, Mr. Mundell Hon. 
Secretary, and Mr. Cruttwell Hon. Treasurer. The 
Straits Championship was won this year by Mr. G. 
R. K. Mugliston, representing Singapore Golf Club, 
with a score of 158. 

In 191 1 Mr. E. F. H. Edlin was elected President, Dr. 
Finlayson Captain, Mr. Mundell Hon. Secretary, and Mr. 
Proctor Hon. Treasurer. Dr. Finlayson, one of the stal- 
warts of the Club, put in a lot of useful work as Captain 
on two occasions, and successfully carried out various 
improvements on the links. The Straits Championship, 
played in Penang, was won by Mr. J. C. Durward, 
representing the Penang Golf Club, with a score of 162. 

In 191 2 H.E. Sir Arthur Young, K.C.M.G., K.B.E., 
returned to the Colony as Governor, and graciously 
accepted the invitation of the members of the Club to 
be again President of the Club, and remained in office 
until he retired in 191 9. Dr. Finlayson was elected 
Captain, Mr. W. J. Mayson Hon. Secretary, and Mr. 
Proctor Hon. Treasurer. In June of this year the Club 
celebrated the twenty-first year of its existence. The 
Straits Championship was played for the first time at 
Ipoh, and was won by Mr. J. L. Humphreys, representing 
the Penang Golf Club, with a score of 177. 

In 191 3 Mr. Mugliston was elected Captain, and with 
the exception of a few months in 19 14, when he was away 
from the Colony, held this position until 191 9, a record of 


service. During Mr. Mugliston's captaincy the Polo 
Club was induced to leave the Racecourse and open a 
ground of its own, the Golf Club giving a Hberal subscrip- 
tion to further that object. Mr. Mugliston took full 
advantage of this, and improved the links wonderfully ; 
bunkers were erected and excellent fairways made, and 
under the Captain's supervision the course has been well 
kept since the improvements were carried out. Mr. 
Mugliston was undoubtedly a very successful captain, 
and did a great deal of good work for the Club. The 
Straits Championship was won by Mr. J. Crabb Watt, 
representing Penang, after a tie with Mr. J. M. Bell, of 

In 1 914 Mr. Raper was elected Hon. Secretary and Mr. 
W. P. W. Ker Hon. Treasurer. Mr. Raper served as Hon. 
Secretary four years, and members are much indebted 
to him for the excellent way he carried out his duties 
and looked after their interests. On his retirement 
the members presented him with a suit-case and cigar- 
box. The Straits Championship was played at Kuala 
Lumpur, and won by Mr. C. J. Foot, after a tie with Mr. 
C. E. Winter, Singapore. 

In 191 5 Mr. Percy Gold was elected Hon. Treasurer, 
and on his leaving Singapore Mr. Ward accepted 
office. The Straits and F.M.S. Championship, played 
at Penang, was won by Mr. R. T. Reid, representing 
Penang. In 191 6 and 191 7 the officers were all re-elected. 
The Straits and F.M.S. Championship, 191 6, played at 
Ipoh, was won by Mr. J. Crabb Watt, representing 
Penang. In 191 7 and 191 8 the Straits and F.M.S. 
Championship and club competitions were not played. 
In 191 7 Mr. W. R. Forde was elected Hon. Secretary 
and Mr. W. P. Plummer Hon. Treasurer, and these 
gentlemen still hold office. Mr. W. Peel is the President 
of the Club and Mr. J. M. Sime Captain. The Straits 
and F.M.S. Championship was revived at Easter 1919, 
and was played over the links of the Club. Mr. J. L. 
Humphreys, representing Singapore Golf Club, was the 
winner, with a score of 155 ; Mr. W. R. Forde finished 


two points behind. The competition records of the 
course are held by Mr. Forde, with a score of 72 for the 
eighteen holes, and 33 for nine holes. Mr. Humphreys, 
in practice, did nine holes in 32 — 4, 2, 4, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 4. 
The best score for eighteen holes was returned by the 
Club professional Omar : 64 for eighteen holes — first 
nine, 3, 3, 4, 3, 4, 4, 3, 3, 5 =32 ; second nine, 3, 2, 5, 4, 

3, 3, 3, 4, 5 = 32. 

The winners of the Club Championship are : 1 891-2, 
J. B. Robertson; 1893, Captain Barter; 1894, Surgeon- 
Captain Hinde ; 1895, J- B. Robertson; 1896-7-8, Dr. 
Fowlie ; 1899, A. W. Stiven ; 1 900-1, Dr. Fowlie ; 1902, 
F. Ferguson; 1903, Dr. Fowlie; 1904, F. Ferguson; 
1905, Dr. Fowlie; 1906, Dr. R. A. Campbell; 1907-8, 
F. Ferguson; 1909, J. Crabb Watt ; 19 10, F. Ferguson; 
191 1, J. Crabb Watt; 191 2, Dr. Finlayson ; 191 3-14, 
C. E. Winter. 


In a preface to the Singapore Sporting Club Rules of 
1 896 the following account is given of the origin of the 

" The Singapore Sporting Club was founded in 1842, 
with the object of encouraging the importation and 
improvement of horses in the Colony by giving away 

" The Government of the day gave to the Club, on its 
foundation, possession of the ground on which the 
existing course now stands. The course was made by 
the Club out of a swamp. On the 31st March 1867 the 
Government made a lease for 999 years, at a pepper-corn 
rent, of the land — fifty acres in extent — to Messrs. J. 
Cameron, W. H. Read, and C. H. H. Wilsone, as Stewards 
of the Sporting Club, on condition that the ground should 
be always kept clear of brushwood and be maintained 
in good order, to the satisfaction of the local Government, 
as a public race ground and rifle practice ground for the 
troops stationed in the Colony and the Singapore Rifle 
Volunteers. The present Trustees are Messrs. J. R. 
Cuthbertson, Theo. Sohst, and S. R. Carr." 


All subscriptions and donations are vested in the Club, 
which is accountable for the proper application thereof. 

Mr. W. H. Read, one of the original promoters of the 
Club, was then an honorary member, the others being 
the Governor, Sultan Ibrahim of Johore, and the Rajah 
of Sarawak, Sir Charles Brooke. The same book says : 
" The Singapore Sporting Club is from the 7th day of 
January 1896 associated with the Penang Turf Club, 
the Perak Turf Club, the Selangor Turf Club, and the 
Sungei Ujong and Jelebu Gymkhana Club, under the 
name of the Straits Racing Association." Three days' 
races were held in 1844, in the mornings, and on the 
preceding evening of each day a dinner was held in the 
Grand Stand, open to all members. At the March races 
of 1845 ^ four-in-hand club (ponies) turned out with a 
drag, as a novelty, but one can hardly suppose that 
Daddy Abrams's custom of a drag to the Derby when at 
home (for which he gathered all the Straits racing 
people) was based on this primitive turnout, or the drag 
which he used on Mafficking Day to go to the Singapore 
Club and Government House. 

In 1867 the stewards included W. H. Read, A. T 
Carmichael, T. Scott, C. H. H. Wilsone, and the Honorary 
Secretary was John Cameron, who afterwards became 
proprietor of the Straits Times. The personnel changed 
but little for many years. There were three honourables 
in 1874 — J. W. W. Birch, the father of Sir Ernest, T. 
Scott, and W. R. Scott, John Cameron being still Hon. 
Secretary. The cheerful R. I. Harper, who was then 
acting manager of the Chartered Bank, and afterwards 
became a broker, was also a Steward. 

In the 'Seventies interest in horse-racing lagged a little, 
and there was a lament that professional riders were 
replacing gentlemen. Abrams, Jinks, and Marshall were 
in their prime. In 1878 five China ponies were brought 
down, but proved troublesome animals. 

In 1880 there were two days' racing, and six events on 
each day. W. H. Read was the judge, S. Gilfillan a 
starter, John Eraser and Charles Dunlop clerks of scales. 


C. Stringer and J. Miller among the Committee. The 
Singapore Derby was valued at $150, for all ponies, and 
was won by Mr. A. Huttenbach's Moracia, a Penang 
horse being second, the riders in this race being Clarke, 
Abrams, and Marshall. The Maharaja of Johore had 
entries in four races. 

In 1884 the Derby was worth $200, and China 
ponies were raced. There was also an event for hack 
gharry ponies ; the race-book was issued by Fraser and 
Neave. Jockeys at the autumn meeting were Dalian, 
A. Holley, Abrams, Mr. E. L. Rae(T. E. Earle, Adamson, 
Gilfillan), Marshall, Mr. Howden (Mr. C. Sugden), and Mr. 
Paterson (Cosmo). Next year the butts on the Race- 
course, which had not been used because of danger since 
1870, were removed. A batch of Burma subscription 
griffins was obtained for the spring meeting of 1886, 
and there was one hurdle-race on each day. 

By 1884 W. A. Cadell had come in as Honorary Secre- 
tary and Clerk of the Course, and at this time the paper 
records : 

^* At the November race meeting amateur jockeys were 
greatly to the fore. Mr. C. Sugden won the Derby and 
two other races, with five seconds out of ten mounts ; 
Mr. * Rae * (T. E. Earle) had six firsts and a second ; 
Mr. Allinson could only get seconds ; * Daddy ' Abrams 
won four races and Dalian two. Mr. Hullett owned a 
horse, Tewfik Bay, which won the Ladies' Purse." 

A change came later, for at the 1887 spring meeting 
Mr. E. L. Rae (T. E. Earle) won five races, against Abrams 
six, Mr. Sugden one. In the autumn races Mr. Curpejee 
(J. Paton Ker) won two, Mr. Rae and Abrams three 

In 1882 A. P. Adams was Honorary Secretary — his 
close interest in racing was maintained up to the time 
he left the Colony. ** J. Fraser and D. C. Neave con- 
ducted the Club lotteries," and the race-book was printed 
at their establishment, the Mission Press. S. R. Carr, 
" Pendek," of John Little and Co., came into the field as a 

n. 350] 

"MR. curpeje;e:" 

(J. Paton Ker). 
Caricature by R. W. Braddeh 


racing man of the best. In 1896 he presented a Derby 
Shield to the Club . The first number of the Straits Racing 
Calendar was printed in April 1897, ^^^ was evidently 
needed, as in January of the previous year the griffins 
arrived by the Fazilka. Vanitas won the Viceroy's Cup 
in 1898, and $100,000 is said to have come to Singapore. 

Matters went fairly smoothly for some years, and the 
Club grew in wealth and popularity. The stands were 
rebuilt and the course vastly improved. There were 
some throwbacks to the sport, as when in the 'Eighties a 
member appealed against the decision of the Committee 
removing his name, and the case went into Court. Then, 
in 1 90 1, the Sultan of Johore resigned the Sporting Club 
over the importation of a horse from Australia. The 
Place Tote was introduced at the November meeting 
in 1903. 

The success with Tan Boo Liat's Vanitas led at 
diiferent times to other raids being made on Calcutta, 
but on the whole they cannot be characterised as 
very successful. Amongst horses which have been sent 
there from the Straits were Essington and The Idler 
about 1904, and Seddon, Severity, and Phonograph 
some seven years later. Calcutta in its turn has contri- 
buted some horses to the permanent racing records 
of the Straits, of which the most noted, probably, of 
recent years was Acetine, brought down by Mr. Payne 
Gallwey, which won the Governor's Cup at the 1906 
autumn meeting, a powerful grey that had not had the 
best of luck in the big Calcutta events. Others that 
have come at various times have been Too Late and 
Pretty Boy. Of the former, who raced in Calcutta 
as Bridge Knight, the most notable characteristic 
was his rooted aversion to starting. Time after time 
he was left stuck at the post, and although he won 
many races, no one ever knew whether he was going 
to get off. It is related that after a series of such 
displays of obstinacy Duval once got up on him when the 
stable had their money on wearing big spurs and carrying 
a heavy whip. When the gate went up, in went the 


spurs and down came the whip with such a will that 
Too Late was so startled that he galloped to the front, 
and was never headed. 

In the period about 1900 to 1904 the leading men 
were C. Sugden, T. Earle, H. Payne Gallwey, Hugh 
Fort, and others. Kirwan and HoUey headed the 
jockey lists, and Peerbux was riding well. Peerbux, 
b}^ the way, more than once brought off a 
remarkable surprise in the griffin races, of which 
he seemed to make a speciality, and he was also 
the rider of Halopin, which, with one exception, 
paid the highest dividend on record. Halopin in 1908, 
after a long series of failures, came in first over R.C. 
and a distance, and paid the handsome sum of $497 
per ticket. It is worth recording that he won only 
one other race. A story current at the meeting was 
that the wife of an important personage in Singapore 
then had as her cavalier that day a young man newly 
out to the East, and she asked him to take a ticket 
for her on Halopin. Neglecting to do so, he did not 
dare to confess the omission, and, being assured by 
all the experts that the horse had not a ghostly chance, 
felt safe. When Halopin rolled home he had sorrow- 
fully to admit to himself that more than his first month's 
salary would be required to pay the lady's winnings I 
The biggest dividend on record is that of Daffodil, 
ridden by Mr. Paton Ker in 1888 in a steeplechase, 
which paid $700. In 1903 Bugler, ridden by Stony 
Wall — the last ride he had — got in front on a muddy 
course and won, paying $427, but curiously enough 
only $8 for a place, which showed lack of the gamblers' 
risk on the part of his supporters. Postman, Noel 
Trotter's griffin, paid over $400 if memory serves. 
Maninga in 1908 paid $221. Bargee in 1904 paid 
$157 and $70 for place. The Monk in 1912 paid $321, 
and Diddle, in 1916, justified his name by returning 
$291. Generally these heavy dividends do not come 
often, and seem to be less frequent now than they were. 

Back in the 1904 period the old stables and buildings 


were rebuilt, the present new tote and stand being 
put up in 1910. A Calcutta visitor in 1901 recorded 
that Singapore had a better starting machine than 
Calcutta, " a most excellent one, the invention of a 
local engineer." This inventor was D. D. Mackie. 
The first place tote was a small attap - roofed shed, 
near where the Secretary's office is now, and in those 
days sometimes under $5 was paid out to a winner, 
a habit which has since been corrected ; but it is notable 
that dividends then included the half-dollar, which 
they do not now. About this period the Secretary 
w^as put on a fixed salary, and other organisation changes 
were made. There was a curious outbreak of sickness 
in Abrams's stables, which caused the deaths of several 
good racers, and materially affected the success of the 
meeting at the time. 

There was a pretty good lot of horses running about 
this period : Essington, The Idler, Pawnbroker, Sir 
Launcelot, Sweet Erina, Cadenas, and others, and 
Mr. Bratt, who was handicapper, had an interesting 
time. There will always be differing opinions about 
handicapping, but on the whole probably E. H. Bratt 
was the best handicapper in the last twenty years. He 
combined the two qualities of an appreciation of book 
form and an ability to mix with the boys and to separate 
the grain from the chaff in their conversation. In 
other times the handicapping was done by the late 
C. E. Velge, a very successful handicapper ; but possibly 
putting a little too much trust in the book instead 
of allowing a margin for the human element. Then 
there was later a committee of three which did fairly 
well. The Club, however, never rose to the ingenious 
suggestion of a racing man that the owners should 
handicap themselves, that is, that each owner should 
send in his ideas of the handicap, and the average should 
be struck for each horse. It was in this period that 
there was the famous Cadenas — Sweet Erina episode. 
There were four horses in the mile and a half race. Sir 
Launcelot, Pawnbroker, Sweet Erina, and Cadenas. 


Two of these, Sir Launcelot and Pawnbroker, went 
off by themselves ; the other two never started, their 
riders claiming that they never heard the starter's 
"go." Sir Launcelot, ridden by Peerbux, won. 
Kirwan is the only rider in that race still here ; he had 
the mount on the favourite, Sweet Erina. Mr. T. 
Sarkies, the proprietor of Raffles Hotel, was the owner 
of the two left. At different times he owned many 
good horses, not with the best of luck : Sweet Erina, 
Cadenas, Gillo, Bluejacket, Portfire, and Blunderer, 
and for many years was a strong supporter of the game ; 
so that Raffles Hotel on Saturday night of race week 
always saw a merry and sometimes slightly riotous 
crowd at dinner. 

The period about 1905 was Essington's great time, 
and Bryans, who rode him invariably, and who was 
one of the straightest and best riders we have ever 
had, once pulled him up at the wrong post, with the 
result that Chestermere shot past him and won, much 
to the general indignation. This followed on several 
previous mistakes due to the system of having different 
finishing - posts for different distances, and although 
a movable judge's box on rails was later adopted, the 
disadvantages were so patent that eventually the 
winning post was fixed, and the race distances altered 
where necessary. 

In 1905 perhaps the most notable event in its way 
was that the Tanjong Pagar Dock Court of Arbitration, 
which was sitting during the race meeting, refused to 
suspend work for the afternoon, a shock to the holiday- 
making susceptibilities of Singapore, which caused 
many sarcastic comments. As showing the over- 
powering excellence of that great horse Essington, he 
won in a field of five and only paid $8. Essington was 
raced by the Bridge Kongsee, which with the Name- 
less Kongsee and the Scots Kongsee were probably, in 
recent times, the most noted of racing confederations. 
The next year saw the win of Acetine in the Governor's 
Cup, carrying the well-known colours of that very 


popular owner, Mr. Payne Gallwey ; whilst the May 
meeting saw Excise win one of many races to the credit 
of W. W. Bailey, one of the most genial of racing men 
here, who subsequently won great races on the English 
and Irish turf. Petgrave was a griffin in this year, 
raced by D. P. MacDougall. This was one of the best 
griffins Singapore has had, and in his first race he 
beat the much-fancied Sextant, owned by J. Graham 
and H. Fort. Sir Hugh Fort, one of the strongest 
supporters of racing in the Straits, and one with a very 
keen knowledge of form, had several good griffins in 
his time. He had the habit of being concerned in 
two, and naming them somewhat similarly. Thus 
Sextant was partnered by Sexton, and at another 
time Hexagon by Hexameter. It was Sir Hugh 
also who played the trick on pronunciators — if one 
may call them such — by naming another griffin he 
had Poluphloisboio. The poor thing could do nothing 
under such a name ; but it is noticeable that, on the 
whole, horses have been considerately named in the 
Straits. There was the famous Trypanosomiasis (which 
the bookies later turned into Tripe and Onions), and 
there was one many years before called Soepgroentoen, 
and there were names like Motor Car and Motor Cycle, 
and Income and Tax, the latter not so bad, and all 
the more appropriate in that an honourable member 
of Council, who had fiercely opposed the income-tax, 
took one of the few tickets he ever took at race meetings 
on Income and won the place, but lost on Tax 1 

On the whole Singapore has not had many good 
griffins, a great contrast to Penang, which has turned 
out some very fine ones. It is necessary only to mention 
in recent times such as Lossie, Chanticleer, Lodestar — 
probably with Storey, the best machine galloper the 
Straits has seen, Wellington, The Gay Gordon, St. 
Albans, Seronok — nothing much to look at, but one 
of the best horses George Redfern has had under him 
in this country, Sador, and at the present time Black 
Watch, a great performer. Amongst pony griffins, 


probably the best that has been here was Brown Comet, 
who won over all distances under the heaviest imposts, 
and was one of the few ponies or galloways that ever 
raced well with horses, although in later times Prince 
Mimer (not a pony griffin) did so. 

1907 saw the unhappy Lady Brockleigh — Jim Gosper 
incident, in which the public very seriously differed 
from the judge's decision. Rosemead (Castro) and Rapid 
Pilgrim were at this time disputing for premier honours. 
Rosemead, like Lady Brockleigh, Chanteuse, Pawn- 
broker, and others, was Java-owned, and in those years 
Java used to send up a useful contingent to Singapore. 
Lady Brockleigh went to stud in Java, and her progeny 
has won races there. In this year there was also the 
incident of Madame Meg, when the horse and rider's 
name wxre hoisted in the frame ; the horse was heavily 
backed, but did not turn up at the starting-post, the 
sais being reported to " have forgotten to bring her." 
There was great indignation, but, of course, no remedy. 

The year 1908 was notable for the reappearance 
of His Highness the Sultan of Johore as a race-horse 
owner. The reappearance was to some purpose, for 
he purchased that fine horse Durbar, brought up by 
Mr. Nicholas, which, arriving in beautiful condition, 
easily annexed the Derby, run then over a mile and a 
half at 9 St., with 87 for mares, and put up what has ever 
since been the Singapore record of 2 min. 41 f sees. 
Ross had the mount, and it was only one of many famous 
victories of this fine rider, who could win more cleverly 
at his best than any other jockey we have had here. 
It will interest those who were concerned in the recent 
I.C.U. case to note that an I.C.U. ran at this meeting, 
and was recorded to have " caused trouble." Mr. 
Payne Gallwey was Chairman of the Club at this period. 
He was followed later by Hugh Fort, E. C. Ellis, A. D. 
Allan, down to Ellis again, and A. Agnew and G. U. 
Farrant at the present time. This period saw Bryans 
at the hey-day of his riding, with Vic. Southall a close 
second, and Duval well up, Mr. Noel Walker, who died 


recently as the result of an accident when riding, heading 
the amateur jockeys' Hst. Two years previously 
Vic. Southall had ridden seven winners out of nine 
in one day at Kuala Lumpur, a record not since beaten. 

In 1 910, amongst new horses imported came Phono- 
graph, who on the whole was probably the quickest 
horse out of a gate ever seen here. He won a good 
many useful races. 

The period from 1 9 1 1 saw a number of good horses 
imported and raced. The Sultan of Johore had Storey 
and Silver Hampton, " Mr. Amber " had Crown Derby 
and Royal Blue (Glorify came up later). The Colonel 
and The Friar were so useful a racing pair that it used 
to be deemed money from home to buy them in the 
lotteries at any meeting. The Friar was very fast 
over the short distance, and a powerful, upstanding 
racer with plenty of spirit, but no liking for heavy going. 
The increased interest which was thus evoked was 
stimulated by the invasion of the bookmakers. Arriving 
first in spies about 1 9 1 1 , they rapidly increased to bat- 
talions, and, thanks to the airing of personal quarrels 
in the Courts, made such a noise that the attention of 
the Government was directed to their doings. The 
Racing Club refused to take the responsibility of con- 
trolling them or of asking for powers to control them, 
so that eventually a Betting Bill was brought in, coming 
into effect in 191 3, and closing the career of the book- 
makers. A curious fact about the Bill was that the 
first draft, or reported draft, was pubUshed in the 
Perak Pioneer y a small paper then just dying out in 

Next year, 191 2, saw a grey EngHsh mare, Skirmish, 
a very nice type of racer, spread-eagle her field over 
R.C. in most extraordinary fashion, winning in the then 
record of i min. 50I sees., a time equalled later by 
Azurite, and subsequently just beaten in 191 8 by Golden 
Rock. Skirmish was one of a batch of three Enghsh 
horses imported by C. W. Abrams, the other two being 
Master Thorpe and Thora, two Irish racers. Neither 


of the latter ever did anything. C. W. Abrams has made 
several attempts to popularise English horses, and later 
got out Flighterand Surge ; but generally bad luck seemed 
to attend these efforts, though English horses now are 
steadily disputing popularity with Australian in Eastern 
racing. Belbeck, who came to Malaya from Australia 
and ran one or two smart races, came from England, 
being of the Troutbeck line ; but generally success has 
not followed English importations. This year also saw 
one of the biggest griffin upsets, when Ross on The Nun 
got clear away from the field on the favourite and was 
beaten at the post by The Monk, ridden by Benfield, 
which paid a dividend of $321. 

Since the War there has not been much movement in 
racing matters. Difficulties of importation and reluc- 
tance to spend money have prevented many new-comers, 
though there have been some good ones, of whom Highgate 
and Golden Mead are now attracting attention, whilst 
the Scots Kongsee has Black Watch running, probably 
as good a horse as the Straits has seen. The Club, in 
fact, went on the principle of carrying on racing simply 
in order to give what it could to war funds and to keep 
the sport together for better times. It is only necessary 
to say that in 191 8 the Chairman was able to report the 
Club had directly given $78,060 to such funds, and had 
indirectly, by promoting lotteries, etc., assisted in giving 
$198,000, to realise the success of the pohcy. Nor were 
the boys backward in doing their duty, for Woodgate 
and Benfield are only two of many who used to ride here 
who joined up in Australia, and in some cases made the 
supreme sacrifice or returned sadly mangled from the 

Any notice of racing in Singapore would be incomplete 
without reference to one of the oldest followers of the 
game who is still here, G. P. Owen. He has been 
Secretary of the Club so long that, save to the older 
generation, his first connection with it is not remembered. 
As in the case of the Cricket Club, he has been an un- 
3urpassed official, carrying out the difficult duties of his 


post with a success which has won from all, whether 
members, trainers, owners, or jockeys, sincere respect 
and admiration. 

In the early 'Nineties, when. the tin-mining industry 
was bringing money in to the F.M.S. — by the way, $30 
a pikul was considered high in those days — the Sungei 
Ujong community, at all times a sporting lot, headed by 
Dr. Braddon, founded their Race Club. The Doctor, 
assisted by W. Dunman, laid out the course ; being 
mathematically correct, no race track in the Straits up 
to then had the bends done in such a manner, and we 
were proud of our course. During this work a contro- 
versy arose between the two Braddons, Abang and Adek, 
as they were known, the former contesting that a man 
with a knowledge of axe- work could compete with the 
Malay with his parang and bliong. We, of course,scorned 
such an idea, and the result was a match between Abang 
and a Malay to cut a small area of bluker in the inside 
of the course. The following morning proceedings 
started; Abang, at the word ''go," went at it with an 
axe for all he was worth. The Malay, on the other hand, 
squatted on his haunches and smoked a couple of cigar- 
ettes, quietly looking on at the other competitor. He 
then used his parang, laying each branch methodically 
in line in the customary way. After a bit Braddon got 
into a nest of keringas (red ants), which caused him some 
trouble and delay, and the air was thick with horrible 
language. I do not think he took advice from us 
leaning over the rails as kindly as it was meant. He 
pluckily fought the keringas, only a little later to disap- 
pear down a disused well, from which we had to ex- 
tricate him, and then Abang decided that the conditions 
of the contest were not good enough. 

It was, I think, in 1894 when Abrams was asked to 
come up as starter,and incidentally to make things cheery 
generally. It was a great meeting. George Gum- 
ming had a particularly fine black horse, which simply 
II — 24 


ran away with all his races. As the meeting was held 
under the Racing Association rules, the top weight was 
limited to 1 1 st. 7 lbs. To make a race, however, Gum- 
ming was asked to waive this point and allow the handi- 
cappers to break the rule. Like the good sportsman he 
was, he at once agreed, and turning round asked Abrams 
to ride, which, after some demur, the old jockey accepted. 
No colours were found large enough till they were split 
up the back, and he weighed out at something like 1 3 st. 
7 lbs. The other riders were all professionals, and during 
the race each had a cut at the old man, who, however, 
shook them off one by one. Fiddes was leading well 
down the straight, and there was a good race, ending in 
Abrams winning by a length — a great performance, 
seeing it was many years since he had ridden in a race. 
Daddy was utterly exhausted, and had to be lifted off 
the horse. He weighed in all right, and was very proud 
of his popular win, and more than once have I heard him 
relating the details of his last race. 

The first course in Seremban was of a horseshoe 
shape, round the hill on which the church and cemetery 
now are, and in consequence nothing could be seen of 
the race beyond the last 200 yards. In spite of this the 
gymkhanas held there were distinctly sporting. The 
Jelebu men would bring down their contingent of ponies, 
and were keen on taking back the prizes of the meetings, 
of which, as a rule, they had a full share. W. W. Douglas 
was Clerk of the Course. In later years he was official 
handicapper for the Straits Racing Association. W. 
Dunman was then ( 1 890-93) up in Jelebu, and did a good 
deal of riding. In 1891 he got over from Sydney a 
mare, Guelph, which he managed to train on the Jelebu 
roads, the only possible way of getting it into condition, 
together with a lot of hacking. This mare, under the 
name of Nasib, ran in Kuala Lumpur unsuccessfully in 
1 892. She was then put into work for the autumn meet- 
ing in Singapore, and was sent to Captain Collinson, of 
the good old 58th Northamptons, for a wind-up. A trial 
was arranged over a i J-mile course, with Allen " Jahat " 


H. 360] 


up. Sugden's Surprise, the previous year's Derby 
winner, was in the trial, which was witnessed by Abrams 
and ColHnson. Allen, who was scarcely a race rider, was 
left at the post — by some eight lengths — and Collinson 
seemed to be the only one to notice that he, if anything, 
picked up slightly at the finish. Knowing the mare to 
be a good stayer, Dunman entered her for the Derby, 
and was much amused at the remarks in " Doncaster's " 
sporting articles, when the writer suggested it was a 
pity owners new to the game did not get advice as to 
entering their horses. Nasib was termed a lady's hack, 
and in place of the Derby should have been entered in 
the third-class races. Dunman's capabilities as a rider 
were unknown locally, but some Bank men en route for 
Hongkong, knowing his successes with the China ponies, 
backed his mounts throughout the meeting, and did well. 
In the Derby Nasib got a 7 lb. allowance for having 
run without a win, Dunman getting also the 7 lb. allow- 
ance as a gentleman rider, and he was just able to weigh 
out at 9 St. 7 lb. ; all the others were professionals. 
Coming down the straight Surprise and another were 
leading neck and neck, thinking they had the race to 
themselves, when Dunman brought Nasib along outside, 
winning comfortably. Abrams 's look of astonishment 
was a picture, he having been present at the trial ; but 
then poor old Daddy never was any good at picking out 
winners, an extraordinary fact seeing he was a clever 
rider, and as a trainer always brought his horses to the 
post in perfect condition. Only on two occasions in 
the annals of Straits racing has the Derby been won with 
the " owner up," the year previously the winner being 
Surprise, with Sugden, as owner, riding. On the Mon- 
day after the races Nasib was driven down to Little's in 
a dog-cart, which certainly was a unique experience for 
a Derby winner, and will as certainly never be repeated, 


Motor-cars have very little to do with " a hundred 
years ago/' and the history of them in Singapore is 


comparatively modern. It would appear that in the 
year 1896 the first " auto-car " was imported by Katz 
Bros., representing Benz et Cie., who dealt in what were 
then described as * ' motor velocipedes. ' ' This car became 
the property of Mr. C. B. Buckley, and was used by him 
for many years, being familiarly known as the " coffee 
machine." The number of cars gradually increased 
each year, but it was not until 1907 that steps were taken 
to deal with the question of organisation. There was 
no definite law in force, and cars were to be seen bearing 
all sorts and conditions of numbers and lettering which 
had been in use by owners in other parts of the world. 
In March 1908 was started a monthly paper called the 
Motor Car and Athletic Journal^ but it came to a sudden 
end with its twelfth number. From it we gather that 
at the time of its first issue there were 214 people licensed 
to drive motor-cars, motor-bicycles and steam-rollers in 
Singapore. About March 1907 saw the formation of 
the Singapore Automobile Club, with H.E. Sir John 
Anderson, K.C.M.G., as President, Sir William Taylor, 
K.C.M.G., Vice-President, and a committee consisting 
of Hon. Mr. W. J. Napier, E. G. Broadrick, W. A. 
Cuscaden, Hon. Dr. Galloway, K. A. Stevens, and J. H. 
Garrett. Mr. K. A. Stevens was the first Hon. Secretary, 
but the first annual report is signed by J. H. Garrett as 
Hon. Secretary and Treasurer, when the membership was 
fifty-six. It is interesting to read in the report : " This 
is a suitable opportunity to carefully consider the future 
of the Club, as it must be admitted that so far the Club 
has not been as active as members would naturally wish." 
A report was issued for 1909, signed by Evelyn C. Ellis 
and C. I. Carver as members of the Committee ; but the 
affairs of the Club were in abeyance until 191 1, when 
Mr. W. A. Sims examined the records and revived the 
Club. He has remained the Hon. Secretary and Treas- 
urer since then, with one interval, when Mr. W. Lowther 
Kemp took over the duties. 

The purposes for which the Club was started were not 
at first correctly understood, and attempts at social 


" runs " and " outings " were not likely to be success- 
ful in a place like Singapore. A more correct name for 
it would probably have been " association " or " union " 
rather than club, as it takes an active interest in all 
matters affecting the interests of motor-car owners, but 
has discontinued any attempts to form club life. The 
report for 191 8 showed a membership of 116. A year 
book issued by the Club is a useful record of work done, 
and from it are taken the following particulars of motor 
vehicles in Singapore : 

1913 . . 535 cars 92 cycles 35 commercial 

1918 . . 1,317 „ 440 „ 46 „ 

Legislation was passed in 191 1 "to regulate the use 
on public thoroughfares of traction engines and carriages 
attached thereto, and motor-cars," and the Ordinance, 
known as No. XIX of 191 1, with various amendments, 
remains in force. The conditions of traffic in the island 
have so materially altered with the coming of the motor- 
car that it has been found necessary to establish a 
special department of police to deal with them, and the 
Traffic Inspector (Mr. Hills) has done much good work. 

Life generally in the island has been improved by 
the facilities afforded by motor-cars, and country and 
distant sea-side bungalows have sprung up at various 
points. Until a road is built linking up Johore with the 
Federated Malay States it will not be possible to take 
long-distance runs, and cars are unable to leave the 
island without the aid of steamer or railway. 

Mr. Buckley bought his car, a second- or third-hand 
old-fashioned Benz, in London for sixteen pounds ! 
It had some curious peculiarities : absolutely refused 
to go up any hill without being pushed up by the un- 
fortunate driver, and could be started only by turning 
the large flywheel at the back of the car by hand ! 
So Mr. Buckley used to keep an old pair of gloves under 
the seat for the purpose ; it was also necessary to put 
about a teaspoonful of petrol into the carburettor and 
light it with a match to warm it up ! The steering was 
by a lever turned right and left, and was raised or 


lowered for high or low speed. Mr. Buckley used to 
say : '' Of course it's only a toy, no use, no use at all." 
As he had no man to look after it, it was hardly ever 
cleaned, and the only wonder was that it ever went 
at all and that he was not blown up ! As a matter 
of fact, he burnt his hand badly one day when trying 
to start it. There were then only two other cars in 
Singapore, an Albion and a De Dion Bouton, both 
fearfully noisy ; so much so that horns were quite 
unnecessary, as you could hear them a good quarter 
of a mile off ! 

Mrs. G. M. Dare (now Mrs. G. P. Owen) was the first 
lady motorist in Singapore, and her first car was a 12-h.p. 
two-cylinder Star. As there were no motor garages 
in those days, it was necessary to know all about the 
machinery and do your own repairs, oiling, and ad- 
justing, and put on your own t5n*es (in case of a puncture 
on the road, probably in your best clothes ! ) — no 
easy detachable rims or Stepney wheel, but really 
hard work, and, of course, there were no trained drivers. 

The first Malay chauffeur to obtain his driving licence 
(Hassan bin Mohamed) was taught by Mrs. Dare. She 
sold the Star on going to Europe the following year, 
and brought out two Adams cars, a lo-h.p. single- 
cylinder brougham and a lo-h.p. single-cylinder two- 
seater " runabout." Cars had no registration numbers 
till 1906, and this small car obtained the distinction 
of the first registration number, S. i., and was named 
" Ichiban " (Japanese for " Number One ") with all due 
honours ! This car is now quite a veteran, and is still 
" going strong " (like Johnny Walker), after having been 
driven by the owner over 69,400 miles in Singapore, the 
Malay Peninsula, Java, England, and Scotland. The 
natives in the F.M.S. used to call it the " Devil wind 
carriage," and were amazed at seeing a lady at the 
wheel. Mrs. Dare took it home with her in 1908, and 
had a detachable back fitted by the makers at Bedford, 
so that it can be used as either a two- or four-seater. 

The first meet of the Singapore Automobile Club 



n. 364] 


took place at Tyersall in June 1907, and cars of all 
descriptions congregated there, from H.H. the Sultan 
of Johore's 70-h.p. " Mercedes " to Mr. Buckley's 5-h.p. 
" coffee machine," as it was nicknamed. The second 
lady to take up motoring was Mrs. (afterwards Lady) 
Napier ; and now, of course, there are numbers of 
" chaff curettes." The present-day cars are so easy 
to drive and so reliable that people feel quite aggrieved 
if any little trifle goes wrong in hundreds of miles, 
whereas in the old days you thought yourself lucky 
to get to your destination without several stoppages 
en route ! But that was always an element of uncertainty 
and adventure, which was exciting. 

The Singapore Recreation Club 

This institution was founded on the 23rd June 1 883, at 
a meeting held for the purpose of starting a Cricket 
Club, at which the following gentlemen were present, 
viz. : Messrs. J. R. McFarlane (Chairman), W. Clarke, 

A. W. Clarke, J. Ganno, C. V. Norris, G. F. de Silva, 

B. E. d'Aranjo, J. Ashness, and A. B. Bodestyne. 

The first officers and members of committee were : 
President, J. R. McFarlane ; Secretary, B. E. 
d'Aranjo ; Treasurer, C. V. Norris ; Captain, A. W. 
Clarke ; Members of Committee : F. Clarke, J. Ganno, 
and J. D. Stuart. The subscription was fixed at $1 
per mensem and the entrance fee $2, and the Club was 
to be called the " Singapore Recreation Club." 

Mr. (now Sir Ernest) Birch took a keen interest in 
the formation of the Club, and gave valuable advice 
when rules were being framed. The original number 
of members is not on record, but the first patrons were 
Major (afterwards Sir Henry) McCallum, the Hon. W. H. 
Read, and Mr. (now Sir John) Anderson, of Guthrie 
and Co. 

Cricket was started on the lower end of the old 
Esplanade, the use of which by the Club was sanctioned 
by Government in July 1883, and lawn tennis was 
introduced in January 1884. Quoits was a feature 


in the early days of the Club, but gradually died off. 
Association football was not played until the early 
'Nineties, while hockey was started only in recent years. 

In March 1884 it was decided to approach the Govern- 
ment for permission to erect a pavilion, and a deputation, 
consisting of Messrs. McFarlane, Leicester, and d'Aranjo, 
was appointed to wait on the Colonial Secretary for 
this purpose. Government sanction was granted on the 
25th March 1884, in a letter from the Honourable the 
late Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, the Colonial Secretary 
at the time, who stated, in the concluding paragraph 
of his letter, that His Excellency the Governor was 
glad to encourage the Recreation Club in the interests 
of the Eurasian community. The Government very 
kindly gave a sum of $200 for the returfing of the ground, 
at the instance of Mr. W. H. Read, who wrote to the 
Governor asking that some assistance be given to 
the Club. The pavilion was completed in November 
1885, the number of members on the roll being then 

With increasing membership it was found necessary 
to have a larger pavilion, and the present one was 
begun, with the sanction of Government, on the 25 th 
August 1904, when the foundation-stone was laid by the 
President, Mr. E. Tessensohn. The new building was 
completed on the 8th August 1905, and formally opened 
on the 2nd September in the same year by his Excellency 
the Governor, the late Sir John Anderson, in the presence 
of a large gathering of subscribers and friends. The 
membership had by then increased to 141. Nearly 
all the local firms and a large number of friends, non- 
members, subscribed generously towards the cost of the 
present pavilion, and a complete list of the subscribers 
is kept on record in the books of the Club. 

The first athletic sports were held in July 1886, and 
the first cricket match played outside Singapore was 
against the Malacca Cricket Club in 1887. Later on, 
in 1 890, the Club sent a team to play against the Selangor 
Cricket Club, in the days of the old ** Spotted Dog." 


The Club, although purely an athletic one, is recog- 
nised as the premier Eurasian Club in Singapore, and 
during the Coronation festivities in 191 1 the management 
of the ball for the Eurasian community at the S. V. C. Drill 
Hall was entrusted by the Government to the Club. 

The present membership is 121, the subscription 
S2 per mensem, with an entrance fee of $5, and the 
Club colours are navy blue and red. 


By G. P. Owen, Secretary of the Singapore Cricket Club 
and the Singapore Sporting Club, etc. 

On the island of Singapore at the present time game 
consists of a few wild pig and half-a-dozen or so of deer. 
The extinction of these is only the question of a few 
years, for Malays and Chinese are fast reducing their 
scanty numbers. How very different from the days 
gone by, when the island was teeming with tiger, deer 
(sambur, Cervus equinus), and pig {Sus cristatus) in 
abundance, with the kijang (barking deer, Cervulus 
niuntjac), of which but few now remain. The crocodile 
{Crocodilus porosus) is still to be found in some of the 
rivers, but I have never looked upon these as game. 
There are still a few mouse deer (Trangulus javanicus) 
and porcupine {Hystrix longicauda), and they are dis- 
appearing in consequence of trapping by natives. 
With the exception of a few migratory species, a similar 
change has taken place in the bird-life. From time to 
time, according to the monsoon or the fruit season, 
snipe (Gallinago gallinago), green pigeon or punai 
(Osmotreron vernans), and pergam (Carpophaga CBnea) 
are to be found, but in very reduced numbers. The 
change in the fauna has resulted from the introduction 
of Hevea brasiliensis , the rubber tree. Before the 
introduction of this cultivation there were many miles 
of virgin forest, providing shelter, food, and quiet places 
for bird and beast to breed. All the forest, original 
and secondary, has given place to rubber plantations, 


mostly clean weeded, alike destitute of edible seeds 
and fruit, and of insects. A similar change has taken 
place on the adjoining islands and Peninsula ; so if 
game and birds survived there, in reaching Singapore 
they would have to run the gauntlet of acres of bare 
or cultivated land, would find the fruit trees mostly 
disappeared and the swamps drained, leaving a desert 
land for pigeons or snipe. Singapore is no longer 
the place for the sportsman. 

It has not always been so, as the records and my own 
recollection bear witness. One of the difficulties in 
old days was to beat the jungle, so thick and expansive 
was it, and such a perfect stronghold for bird and beast. 
Of course, big game such as elephant and seladang were 
never established in the island itself, but they were 
close to it, on the mainland. The present writer and 
a friend, then stationed in Singapore, a brother of a 
well-known Admiral of the Fleet, left the town on one 
occasion at 4.30 a.m., accomplished the fifteen miles 
journey to Kranji, crossed the Strait, about two miles 
wide, and by the afternoon of the following day had 
bagged three elephants. 

Though the island is but twenty-six miles by fifteen — 
about the size of the Isle of Wight — there have always 
been tigers in it, the most formidable of game to hunt, 
as done here, on foot, and with only men and dogs for 
beaters. The Malay word for tiger, harimau, is usually 
abbreviated to rimau, and I have often thought that 
if the place had been called Rimaupore there would 
have been more reason in it than the Singapore (city 
of the lion). This would also have disposed of the 
more probable derivation of Singapore : Singgah, a 
calling-place, and pura, a city. Certainly no lion is 
ever known to have existed in Singapore outside the 
bars of a menagerie cage. " Rimaupore " would have 
at least some local colouring, for from the earliest days 
of the Settlement, and probably for centuries before, 
tigers have abounded in the densely covered jungles 
of the island, separated from the mainland by only 

11. 368] 



two miles of water, in which are many small islands 
as resting-places, and abounding in pig, deer, etc. That 
tigers do thus cross the Straits, and have done so quite 
recently, is amply authenticated. Cameron mentions 
the case of a tiger swimming across the Strait and being 
caught in fishing-stakes. Footprints on the sandy 
shore at Changhie were quite common not many years 
ago, and the following incident is well established. A 
party of Malays saw a tiger crossing from Pulo Obin 
in the direction of Changhie, and followed him in their 
boat, being thus at a considerable advantage in getting 
this formidable animal out of his element. They 
attacked the swimming brute with their formidable 
parangs (native knives), also using their oars, and 
eventually split his skull open and towed him ashore 
to the beach. Frequent reference is made to " the 
deplorable ravages committed by tigers on the island," 
to the large increase in their numbers, and to the means 
to be adopted for their destruction. Cameron is re- 
sponsible for the statement that on an average one man 
per day fell a victim to the tiger. The newspapers of the 
'Fifties and 'Sixties tell of Chinese being carried off within 
a few miles of the town. Mr. Buckley, in his interesting 
Anecdotal History of Singapore, says that the first 
mention of tigers is in the Singapore Chronicle of the 
8th September 1831 — a Chinaman was killed by a tiger 
near the road leading to New Harbour, and another 
native was killed shortly afterwards in another direc- 
tion, probably by the same tiger. A few months later 
a tiger was seen by a European and his wife crossing 
the road in the direction of New Harbour. Buckley 
writes : 

'' It must be remembered that in 1831 the island 
was a dense jungle except near the town, and there 
were so many pig and deer that the tigers were not 
likely to venture near human habitations. There is 
no reason whatever to think that they were attracted 
by human beings ; and as httle reason to think that 
they had not always been on the island, swimming across 


the narrow straits from Johore in search of pig and deer, 
as they do to this day " (1902). 

There was a theory that only tigers had been found 
on the island, never tigresses, and this theory was firmly 
held for many years. There was no record of the female 
ever having been trapped or shot; but within quite recent 
years one was caught in a pit at Bukit Timah, and I 
myself shot one, later securing one of the cubs, a second 
cub falling to a spring-gun set by a Chinese gambier 
planter. These incidents clearly upset the theor}'', and 
doubtless females have often swum to the island, where 
there was abundance of cover and food to induce them 
to remain. With the disappearance of jungle and swamp 
this was bound to change. When we remember that 
only a few years, ago many square miles in the north 
of the island were dense jungle, bounded by two roads 
running parallel at a considerable distance from each 
other, that there were large tracts of lovely primitive 
jungle in the Changhie district, with only a few native 
dwellings here and there and occasional plantations, 
where the owner kept pigs, and that these conditions 
applied to three-fourths of the island, one can only come 
to the conclusion that it was an ideal home for a tiger. 

How one got to love that beautiful jungle ! — a perfect 
venue for the sportsman and lover of nature, with the 
magnificent trees draped with their own foliage and that 
of the many climbing or aerial plants. But so much 
has been written by Swettenham, Clifford, and George 
Maxwell on the beauties of the jungle — of which Singa- 
pore had its fair share — that I have only to express my 
deep regret that it has all gone, never to be replaced. 

The secrets of the jungle were not obtained without 
toil and sometimes by taking risks. Buckley, when 
referring to shikaris, says " only bold spirited men have 
been successful in shooting tigers in Singapore, and there 
have not been many of them." He refers to Mr. Carnie 
(1831), who found shooting tigers more remunerative 
than being in the police force ! — and says he was a man 
of great pluck. " It is well to remark that tiger shooting 


in Singapore is a very different thing from the sport in 
India, where the sportsman is upon the back of an ele- 
phant or high up in a tree. Here it is much more 
dangerous and adventurous a matter ; on foot and in 
a jungle, face to face at a moment's notice with a tiger." 
An officer, who had been stationed in India, and had had 
considerable experience in tiger shooting according to 
Indian methods, remarked to me, after a day or two in 
the jungle : " Fortunately there are not too many fools 
in Singapore, or there might be more tiger shooters." 
I thought the remark rather unkind at the moment, but, 
on thinking it over, began to see the truth that lay 
behind the remark. 

In addition to the names of sportsmen mentioned in 
Buckley, there have been others, one in particular, 
whose name must always remain as one of the keenest 
of sportsmen and best of rifle-shots, T. S. Thomson. His 
stay in Singapore extended to fifty years, he arriving here 
at the age of twenty and not leaving it till he was nearly 
seventy (arrived in 1859). During most of his time 
he never missed an opportunity of going out, and his 
record of wild boar and deer must far exceed all others, 
as well as his elephant and seladang experience in the 
Peninsula. Curiously enough, Thomson never bagged a 
tiger, not from any want of endeavour or for want of 
opportunity, but from sheer bad luck, and it was a 
great disappointment to him. On one occasion he 
and I went out together, when our trackers brought 
news of a tiger having carried off a Chinaman's pig 
during the night and dragged it into quite a small 
patch of jungle about a quarter of a mile away, where 
he was lying up and making a feast of the carcase. 
The patch was so small that I was able to make a 
ccniplete examination of it all round. On one side 
the undergrowth and lallang grass had been burnt off, 
leaving the ground with not enough cover for a rat. 
I arranged the beat so that unless the brute broke back 
through the beaters he must emerge into the open 
ground, and placed Thomson about thirty yards beyond 


the open space, with a hundred yards' view of the open 
ground, myself taking up a position in the thick under- 
growth on the other side in case he should try to sneak 
away under cover. The head beater carried out the 
beat as arranged, and almost immediately the tiger came 
out in front of Thomson and stood perfectly still, broad- 
side on, with nothing between him and a '577 double- 
barrelled Express rifle in Thomson's hands. Thomson 
fired and missed, and the tiger went back into the jungle 
he had just left. As the beaters came on again he broke 
cover in exactly the same spot, but this time at a very 
slow pace. My friend again fired and again missed, and 
the tiger broke into a series of bounds, still across the 
open space. A second barrel was fired at him, but, alas 
for poor Thomson, another miss ! On another occasion 
my friend was in a most favourable position, when a 
tiger broke cover within ten yards of him, and he had 
two shots, both unsuccessful. Why the bad luck should 
come at this time I cannot tell, but I feel sure that a pig 
or a deer would not have got off under the circumstances. 

The late Captain Collinson, of the 58th Regiment, who 
afterwards became Collinson Bey, of the Egyptian Army, 
must be added to the list of keen sportsmen. He was a 
handsome fellow, a fine man and a soldier, a keen sports- 
man, a good shot, and courageous to the last degree. 
Although he never had the luck to bag a tiger in Singa- 
pore, he created a record for Amoy by getting three 
tigers in caves, before breakfast in one morning, under 
the most dangerous circumstances. 

Another of my shooting companions, whose name is 
also mentioned in Buckley, is Mr. Donald Maw, and of 
all my shooting chums I am not sure that anyone came 
up to him as a good all-round shot and sportsman. He 
was also a fine target shot, but as he is still in Singapore 
he might not like me to say all about him that I 

Although many animals are brought down under the 
most disadvantageous and almost impossible conditions, 
they often offer ridiculousl}^ easy chances, and it is the 


easy ones, as in poor Thomson's case, that are often 
missed. The usual method in tiger shooting is to put in 
the beaters to one side, with the guns, on foot, placed 
in the most favourable position obtainable upon the side 
on which the animal is expected to break. Under 
these conditions Mr. Maw and myself have accounted 
for a dozen tigers on the island. Others have had luck, 
too, but I never heard of one of them with more than a 
single animal to his credit. Many have fallen to spring- 
guns set by gambler planters, and several have been 
caught in pits or traps. 

On one occasion I was tempted to deviate from the 
usual method of shooting on foot, and sat up in a tree all 
night to get a shot, as under the circumstances this was 
the only way. The Changhie jungle was much too big 
to attempt to beat, but a path ran through it, and tigers 
had been seen passing through it, leaving their footprints. 
I built a machan in a tree on the side of this path and 
tethered a goat a few yards distant, knowing that the 
bleat of the goat would attract the tiger when night set 
in. I chose a bright, moonlight night for my first and 
only attempt at night-firing from a machan, as on 
ordinary nights the pitch darkness of the jungle makes a 
shot impossible. My head tracker, Kader, was with 
me, a fine shikari, who knew every short cut in the jungle, 
and when there were no paths could get through within 
a short distance of the intended place, whereas many a 
man would only end in getting back to the starting - 
place or crossing his own tracks. We took up position 
about 5 p.m., and kept a sharp look-out for several hours, 
the moon shining brightly along the path. About 
midnight I began to get weary and disappointed, 
having made up my mind that whatever was to happen 
would be in the first hours of the night. Suddenly I 
saw something coming down the path from the Serangoon 
end, and prepared for a shot. I grasped my rifle and 
waited until the object should approach a little nearer, 
feeling that after all my long wait was to be rewarded. 
To my surprise, instead of a tiger was a man, wearing 


only a loin cloth like the Tamils wear, but with a piece 
of looking-glass five or six inches wide embedded in his 
matted hair, which gave him a very weird appearance 
as the moon's rays shone on it. Now it happened that 
this man was well known to Kader as an orang kramaty 
or holy man. Most Malay villages have these men, or 
know of them. They are reverenced and generally 
invested with the property of invulnerability, and many 
superstitions hang about them. Personally I think 
them either maniacs or impostors. This particular 
orang kramat was supposed to be dumb, at all events 
no one had ever heard him speak. I looked down as 
he halted on seeing the white goat tied up, and asked him 
in Malay, '' Who are you ? " The surprise was too 
sudden for him, and he replied, " It is I, sir," and with 
that passed along the path out of view. So much for 
the dumb holy man. As we were not invulnerable to 
tigers, we decided to keep our positions, and settled 
down for another five or six hours' watch. The moon 
by this time had got low, and the path, not more than a 
couple of feet, was in deep shadow. About four o'clock 
a number of monkeys in the trees near by began to 
" swear," and Kader whispered to me that the tiger 
was about, and the monkeys had seen him. This must 
have been the case, for in a few minutes a tiger sprang 
out of the jungle and seized my goat by the neck, 
intending to carry him off on the spring. In this, how- 
ever, he was disappointed, as I had tethered the goat 
round the body with a jungle creeper, much stronger 
than a rope of like calibre. The goat had four large 
teeth-marks in the neck, in one of which I could put my 
finger for a couple of inches, and its neck was broken. 
I fired, but in the darkness missed. Weary men, we 
descended from our perch at daybreak, firmly resolved 
not to repeat the experience. 

In connection with this incident and the " kramat " 
man, Mr. H.N. Ridley, in an article in the Straits Times 
Annual for 1906, on the '' Tiger in Myth and Reality," 
gives the following version : 



" A sportsman, G.P.O., in pursuit of a tiger near 
Changi, sat all night in a tree overlooking a forest path 
which led to the village, expecting that his prey would 
sooner or later come along the track. In the middle of 
the night the figure of a native was seen coming along in 
the direction of the village. 

*' * Who are you ? ' cried the sportsman. 

'^ ' It is I,' was the reply, and the figure vanished in 
the gloom. 

'^ At five o'clock in the morning, when it was darkest, 
the ' great cat ' rushed suddenly from under the tree 
across the path and seized the goat tied up underneath. 
The sportsman fired, but it was too dark to see clearly, 
and the tiger crashed back into the wood unhurt. On 
his return to the village, he inquired of the inhabitants 
who it was that had come down the forest track at 
midnight. They declared that no one had done so, nor 
would anyone dare to walk there at night while the tigers 
were about ; and where, they added, could he have come 
from, as the path led to no other village. 

'* The sportsman and his ' shikari ' said that they had 
seen and spoken to the man, who answered them. 

'' ' Oh, that was the tiger,' they all said, ' in the form of 
a man come to see where you were, and when it found 
out, of course refused to come down the path where you 
could shoot it, so he hid under the tree instead.' Many 
other weird tales of interwoven myth and fact might 
be told of this superb and mysterious animal, of the 
part it plays in the magic dreamland of the East, and in 
the reality of the fife of the peasant." 

Many animals are beheved by the natives to be kramat, 
and it is very annoying, after your beater has been out 
tracking and the guns arrive, to be told that there is 
nothing in the neighbourhood except the kramat deer, or 
the kramat pig, which, of course, it is useless to go after. 
The title has generally been gained by the superior 
cunning of the animal in evading the guns or the bad 
shooting of the men who have been after it. When, 
sooner or later, the animal does fall to a well-directed 
bullet from a persistent hunter, their faith has a rude 
shock, but there is generally an explanation forthcoming. 
II — 25 


Within recent years the head of a rebelhous tribe pro- 
claimed himself kramat, and believed it himself, till he 
was captured and shot in the presence of his followers. 
So much for the invulnerable kramat. 

On the mainland there are many black panthers — 
none of the spotted variety is, I believe, met with, 
though some are called by the natives harimau kumbang. 
From time to time, reports are made of this animal being 
seen on the island, and there is no inherent reason why, 
if a tiger swims the Straits, the black panther should not ; 
but I have never seen one or heard of one being shot or 
trapped in Singapore, though one frequently hears of 
fowls, cats, dogs, etc., being carried off by a panther. 
But then fowls, and even dogs and cats, can be converted 
into money by night prowlers. The resident who 
declares that he was followed, while on his bicycle, for 
some miles by a black panther probably overlooked 
the fact that black pariah dogs abound in that district. 

Next to the tiger in size is the sambur deer, and these 
were formerly quite common, but now are reduced to 
a pitiful half-dozen. A fine animal, running up to 330 lb. 
weight ; those shot on the island are similar to the 
sambur on the mainland, many of the old stagers 
having handsome horns. 

The troubles of the jungle do not always consist in 
the fierceness of the animal hunted. On one occasion, 
when out with a Captain Dawkins, of the 5th Fusihers, 
after deer, in order to give him a good view of the country 
I advised him to stand on the trunk of a fallen monarch 
of the forest, which raised him well above the surround- 
ing undergrowth. When I got to my own station, some 
1 50 yards away, I saw him frantically waving his arms 
and attempt to rub something off his limbs. He flung 
away his sun topi, followed it by his rifle, and was pre- 
paring to discard his coat. Had he got into the midst 
of a colony of red ants, keringas, about half an inch 
long with terrible nippers, that bite and never give way ? 
I went to his assistance, and found that it was not red 
ants, but bees that he was attacked by. Realising that 


they would go for anything within sight, I called out to 
him to follow me, but at a distance, and reaching a bed 
of bracken, I carefully crawled under it, flat on the 
ground, under about five feet of the dense fern. I 
called to him to follow my example, and to my horror 
he followed me into my tunnel, and brought hundreds 
of the vicious insects with him. After combating 
them for some time under these disadvantageous cir- 
cumstances, I told him in forcible language to get out 
of it and run down the path, and when I could stand it 
no longer, I followed his example, intending to go the 
opposite way. The bees came on me in ever greater 
numbers. I found I was following him, and as we ran 
the insects left him to go for me ! At last I rushed to 
a stagnant pool of water at a dip in the path, and lay 
down in it, my topi covering my face, and remained 
quite motionless for some ten minutes. On getting out 
of the pool I found myself covered with horse-leeches, 
and had practically to strip to rid myself of the loathsome 
things I Further down the path I came to my friend 
having the bee-stings extracted by an old Chinaman, 
who consolingly muttered, as he cleared out each sting, 
'' tid'apa " (nevermind), which, being translated to Daw- 
kins as " a matter of no importance," made him more 
indignant than ever. We consoled ourselves that they 
were only bees, and not hornets, of which three stings 
will kill a man and six a horse. 

Wild pig {Sus cristatus) have at all times been more 
numerous than other kinds of game in and around the 
swamps of the island. They, like deer, afford good 
shooting for the rifle, but owing to the thickness of the 
undergrowth and the ease with which they can slip 
through it noiselessly and at a fair pace, buck-shot is 
more effective than ball. From their habit of feeding 
on roots, they do a good deal of damage in vegetable 
gardens and on tapioca estates, and it used to be 
customary to keep a man or two occupied entirely in 
shooting down wild pig. At times, when beating 
swamps and thickets, as many as ten or fifteen have been 


turned out of quite small patches. The Chinese set 
spring-guns and dig pits to capture them, and their 
flesh is quite good eating. The Malays do not touch the 
animal, and do not shoot or trap it, but they have inge- 
nious ways of keeping the animals out of their gardens, 
or of killing them if they get in. 

During the north-east monsoon, in the rainy season, 
from November to February, or even later, very fair 
snipe shooting used to be had in the swamps and marshy 
land, which provide food for the birds, and large wisps 
would arrive with the rain and the north wind. Not 
infrequently hundreds could be seen on the wing, cruis- 
ing round before deciding where to settle. But this, 
again, was in the old days, before the advent of the 
hevea. Many good bags were made, as many as fifty 
or sixty couple falling to a couple of guns in a few hours. 
Now twenty couple is an exceptional day's bag. 

About the year 1881 Mr. James Miller (GilfiUan, Wood 
and Co.), with whom I was then living, made an attempt 
to introduce the Indian red-legged partridge into Singa- 
pore, and imported about a hundred birds. They were 
kept in an enclosure on his compound at Nassim Hill, 
Tanglin, and apparently had got accustomed to their 
new habitat and quite satisfied with their new surround- 
ings. But one night a musang (Paradoxurus hermo- 
phrodyta) forced a hole in the roof and killed several. 
Miller decided to let the rest go free, and some flew away, 
but many remained close to their previous enclosure. 
Food was put on the tennis-lawn for them each morning, 
and quite a number used to come for their early breakfast. 
One morning an old hen was seen approaching in an 
excited manner, and presently out came a brood of young 
partridges, much to the delight of all of us. As many 
birds had settled round about the house, it was hoped 
that this might be taking place elsewhere as well. 
Notices were put up asking residents not to shoot them, 
and they were not, to our knowledge, shot by local sports- 
men. The regiment at Tanghn, just in the midst of 
the new home of the birds, was changed for another. 


Soon after their arrival Miller met one of the officers at 
a dinner party, and in course of conversation the new 
sportsman said : "You fellows don't know the good shoot- 
ing there is on the island. This morning, before eight 
o'clock, I got four couple of partridges within a mile of 
the barracks ! " Miller's attempt did not succeed. No 
doubt musang, snakes, and other enemies were too much 
for the strangers. 

Occasionally a painted snipe is put up, but they are 
very rare. The same applies to teal and wild duck, 
but many regular snipe shooters never saw one of these 
birds in the island. 

Golden plover usually visit us a month or so in advance 
of the snipe. They are at all times fairly plentiful, 
but always difficult to approach, as they invariably 
settle on open ground ; and though they are not so hard 
to get at as the same bird at home, a good deal of 
manoeuvring is required to get within range. 

Green pigeons are plentiful when certain jungle trees 
are in fruit, and under certain conditions enormous bags 
are made. The birds roost by thousands in clumps of 
trees some distance from where they feed. The general 
method is to place guns round the clump of trees where 
they are known to roost, and get the birds on their evening 
flight back after feeding. A shot into the brown may 
bring down several, and by placing five or six guns 
round the roosting trees two or three hundred can be 
got in an hour and a half. 

The pergam, a magnificent large pigeon, is also to 
be had, though difficult to bring down, as he flies high 
and has strong feathers. No. 4 shot is generally required. 
Not far from the impounding reservoir a large wild 
fig tree, standing in thick jungle about eighty feet high, 
was in full fruit, and attracted numbers of pergam. 
Not having any No. 4 shot, my friend D. Maw climbed 
up the tree, and shot many with snipe shot as they 
circled about. Although frequently shot at, they re- 
turned, and continued to circle about for quite a long 


Quail are occasionally put up from patches of lallang 
grass, but their numbers are so few that they are not 
considered enough attraction for the sportsman. Two 
kinds are found, the ordinary speckled-breasted one 
{Excalfactoria chinensis) and the very small brown bird 
(Turnix pugnax) with a red stern. . 

A species of water -fowl is also to be met, but is 
not shot by Europeans. The native gunner, however, 
will shoot anything that gets up. To him nothing is 
sacred, not even does in the breeding season. When 
game was more plentiful the Government passed a 
Destruction of Wild Birds and Animals Ordinance, 
prescribing a close season. The Ordinance, I believe, 
still exists, though with little practical application. 

The days of sport on the island are almost over, and 
one cannot but regret that the all-conquering rubber has 
put an end to one of the most delightful pastimes which 
our predecessors of as recently as twenty years ago 
thoroughly enjoyed. 



Mr. Buckley, himself an enthusiastic amateur, says in 
his book that the earhest record of amateur theatricals 
in Singapore was in 1833, when the amateurs essayed 
Dr. Young's celebrated and much-admired tragedy The 
Revenge ; the attempt was a failure, and the paper gave 
the performers a good slating. Mr. Buckley gives quite 
a full account of amateur theatricals up to 1867. 

The first theatre was in Cross Street, Teluk Ayer, and 
in it the amateurs played She Stoops to Conquer. In 
1834 a move was made to Chong Long's house at Kam- 
pong Glam. Chong Long was a well-known and popular 
Chinaman, whose personal residence was in the Square. 
The house at Kampong Glam was later bought by Mr. 
Carnie, and after him by Mr. James Eraser, of Maclaine, 
Eraser and Co. The first performance at Chong Long's 
was a failure ; the paper was so unkind as to observe 
that " the whole would have gone off much better had 
several of them kept sober ^ and others remembered their 
parts better." This performance was so damping that 
it was not for another ten years that theatricals were 
revived ; Captain Calbeck, of the Madras Army, was 
the brave man, and Mr. W. H. Read aided and abetted 
him. In those days, and for years after, none of the 
actors appeared on the programme under their own 
names, but each took a fancy name ; Captain Cal- 
beck used the delightfully appropriate one of Vincent 
Crummies, and under his management things went well. 

The theatre was at the London Hotel, in Coleman 



Street, which stood where the Adelphi does to-day ; 
the proprietor, Mr. Dutronquoy, rigged up a theatre in 
one of the rooms and called it the Theatre Royal. In 
the first performance there, in 1844, Mr. W. H. Read 
made his debut in Charles the Second, or the Merry 
Monarchy sl very favourite play at the time. Women's 
parts in the old days were always played by men, and 
of these men Mr. W. H. Read was in his day the most 
clever ; he always used the stage name of Miss Petowker. 
Mr. Buckley says that Miss Petowker had the smallest 
waist and smallest foot of any lady in Singapore ! 

Another amateur who made his debut in Charles 
the Second was Mr. Thomas Dunman, father of Messrs. 
Robert and William Dunman, whose names are also 
famous in the annals of Singapore theatricals. His 
stage name was Mr. Johnson, and Mr. Buckley says that 
he was the greatest low comedian Singapore had ever 
seen. However, when he joined the police force, his 
theatrical career had to cease, as the authorities objected 
to his acting ; his last part, which he played after he 
had joined the force, was the appropriate one of Captain 
Copp ! Though he was lost to the stage, his comic songs, 
sketches, and jokes were always in evidence at his own 
and his friends' houses. 

Mr. William Napier, the lawyer, and later Lieutenant- 
Governor of Labuan, was also a leader in amateur 
theatricals at this time ; he played the part of the King 
in Charles the Second, and when answering one of the 
other characters who inquired how His Majesty had 
passed the night, brought down the house by saying 
" Vara restless ! Vara restless I " This reminds one 
of another Scotch lawyer, Mr. J. G. Campbell, who did 
much the same thing in Under the Red Robe. He played 
the part of a. French inn-keeper, and delighted the 
audiences by his version of one of his lines. " Ah I 
'Tis the way of the wurrld ! " he proclaimed, which for 
a French inn-keeper was at least precocious. Mr. 
Campbell has given up theatricals now, but his fine bass 
was always very useful in musical plays. 


When Dutronquoy moved his hotel to where the 
Europe is now, the Theatre Royal disappeared, and the 
amateurs moved to the old Assembly Rooms at the 
foot of Fort Canning, where a very passable theatre 
was made, the scenery for which was painted by Mr. 
C. A. Dyce, of Martin, Dyce and Co., who was a brother 
of Mr. Dyce, the R.A. The first performance at this 
new Theatre Royal was in 1845. 

The most celebrated of the amateurs in the 'Forties, 
besides those already mentioned, were Mr. Archie 
Spottiswoode, who played women's parts under the 
name of Miss Ledbrook ; Captain J. D. Scott, of the 
Madras Artillery, calling himself Mr. Folair ; and Mr. 
J. D. Vaughan, the lawyer, whose name was Mr. Jingle. 
Mr. Farleigh Armstrong, then in William Macdonald 
and Co., made his debut in 1845, ^^^ was for long the 
leading comedian. Mr. W. H. Read gave up women's 
parts in that year, but continued for long afterwards 
in men's. 

After this there was a considerable lull, until 1855, 
when four performances were given. In 1857 the 
amateurs were busy playing in aid of a fund to fit up 
a new theatre at the Town Hall, which took the place 
of the old Assembly Rooms, demolished in 1856. A 
temporary theatre was erected on their site, and was the 
home of the amateurs until 1861, when they moved to 
the Town Hall, which stood where the present Victoria 
Theatre stands, and which was pulled down only in 
1906 to make way for the latter. 

Captain J. D. Scott left with his battery for India 
in i860, and Mr. W. H. Read became President and 
Stage Manager of the Corps Dramatique. Mr. Farleigh 
Armstrong, whose stage name was Mr. Bono, proved 
a worthy successor to Mr. Thomas Dunman as low 
comedian. Mr. G. M. Dare, then in Syme and Co., joined 
the Corps Dramatique in 1857, ^nd took a lively part 
in it for many years. A playbill of Helping Hands, 
performed in October 1857, has Mr. Dare's list of 
members next their acting names. Amongst them 


are the names of Messrs. Frederick Mansfield Goss, of 
Ker, Rawson and Co. ; Robert Barclay Read, of A. L. 
Johnston and Co. ; H. W. Wood and WiUiam Adamson, 
both then in the Borneo Co. Mr. (the late Sir) William 
Adamson played a woman's part, and later became 
the leading light comedian ; for years he took an active 
part in theatricals, even so late as 1876, as we shall see 

In 1 861 Mr. F. D. Barnes, of the P. and O. Company, 
first appeared ; he was an actor possessing great powers 
in the famous Robson's line. His first role in Singapore 
was in Robson's part in The Chimney Corner, which 
was played with Boots at the Swan, written by Mr. 
John Cameron, Editor of the Straits Times. The latter 
was the first amateur-written play produced here, and 
a great success, the title-role being played by Mr. Farleigh 

About the end of 1861 a second amateur society 
was formed, the Savage Club, of which the leading 
spirit was Mr. William Steel, of the Mercantile Bank. 
The result was that 1862 was a red-letter year, the 
Corps Dramatique going at full blast in the Town Hall 
and the Savage Club at Barganny House, Mr. Steel's 
residence, where a stage was fitted up. Mr. J. D. 
Vaughan was President and Stage Manager of the 
Savage Club, and Mr. Robert Barclay Read of the Corps 

The Savage Club in this year produced Fra Diavolo, 
the first musical play given by amateurs in Singapore, 
though musical numbers had been introduced in many 
others previously. The Club also produced Don Ccesar 
de Bazan and The Merchant of Venice, both very 
courageous efforts for amateurs ; but the Club was very 
fortunate in possessing Dr. H. A. Allen as its tragedian, 
and Mr. De La Feuillade, of the Borneo Co., for melo- 
drama. The latter was splendid in broken English 
parts. The Club's leading lady was Mr. William Mul- 
^holland, of the Borneo Co., and Mr. Buckley says 
'that as a delineator of female characters he was never 


surpassed, his Portia in particular being excellent. 
He played Maritana in Don Ccesar de Bazan ; Mr. 
Buckley says that he was exquisite in the part, and 
that no stranger visiting the theatre could have realised 
that a man and not a woman was playing. 

The low comedian of the Savage Club was Mr. Charles 
Emmerson, of Emmerson's Tiffin Rooms. He was quite 
equal to any of his predecessors, and, when he joined 
the Corps Dramatique later, proved an able successor 
to Mr. Farleigh Armstrong. 

The Savage Club had, however, a very short career, 
for Mr. Steel left in 1863 for Bombay, and, though 
attempts were made to resuscitate it, the Club ended 
with Mr. Steel's departure. 

In 1864 was commenced the series of Children's 
Parties at Christmas-time, which were continued from 
year to year till 191 1. Mr. C. B. Buckley, " the Chil- 
dren's Friend," wrote the children's plays, designed the 
costumes, arranged and stage-managed, and bore the 
cost of production and of the subsequent entertainment. 
He lives in the memories of all whose childhood was 
spent in Singapore during his life here, and those grown- 
ups who helped him in his entertainments have an in- 
effaceable recollection of the energy, skill, and powers of 
organisation which he devoted to pleasing the children 
and making their Christmas happy. Mr. Buckley was 
himself a good actor, and a capable musician, but he 
had also the genius of mise en scene and stage manage- 
ment ; this is happily summed up in the last verse of 
some lines in Straits Produce for April 1895, concerning 
him and his ways : 

When the limelights he works upon the stage 
He refresheth the hearts of youth and age. 
With sweet fairies and scenes our minds engage 
With troubles of lovers and of love the rage, 
And the children love him so, 
His kindness is felt by all. 
Meanness of self he doth not know. 
He helpeth those who fall. 

After his death in 19.12 the children subscribed 


for a portrait of their friend, which hangs in the Town 
Hall ; it is painted by the late Mr. John Adamson 
from portraits and knowledge supplied by Mrs. G. P. 
Owen, and is a masterpiece of portraiture. The unveiling 
ceremony was attended by nearly a thousand children 
and grown-ups. 

After 1867 folks seem to have got very serious ; 
possibly the Transfer was too much for them ; but 
whatever the reason was, theatricals seem to have 
stopped altogether, and it was not until 1876 that a 
revival was attempted. Helping Hands was put on 
again, and with it was played a farce by Edmund Yates 
called My Friend from Leatherhead. The Singapore 
Daily Times commenced its critique thus : 

" The Amateur Dramatic Corps of some twenty-five 
or thirty years ago, which has just been rescued from 
decay by the energ}'- and public spirit of the young 
men of the Colony, if its records had been diligently 
chronicled, would have now presented an interesting 
story of the social life of the Settlement." 

Those are very true words, and the reader will find 
in Mr. Buckley's account of theatricals and in this 
account name after name of persons, men and women, 
who played big parts in the social life of Singapore. 

Amongst the names of " the young men of the Colony " 
responsible for the revival in 1876 are those of Hervey, 
Maxwell, McCallum, Stringer, Swettenham, and Cadell. 
The Hon. Mr. William Adamson was the Stage Manager ; 
he had played in Helping Hands in 1857. The play was 
a domestic drama by Tom Taylor, and a very popular 
one in its time, but very out of date in 1876. The 
ladies' parts were still taken by men, Messrs. Budd, 
Sheriff, and Cadell. The last-named was picked out 
by the paper as having acted to perfection. Mr. J. C. D. 
Jones, of the Telegraph Co., made his debut as William 
Rufus, Toole's old part. Panjang Jones, as he was called, 
was for years one of the leading spirits in amateur 
theatricals, and has left behind him a very high repu- 
tation indeed. He and Mr. J. M. Fabris, to be men- 


n. 386] 


Caricatures by R. \V. Braddell. 


tioned later, were possibly the best actors Singapore 
has seen in the past fifty years. 

The 1876 revival was only a flash in the pan, and 
the next revival occurred in 1882, since when Singapore 
has enjoyed a succession of amateur performances, 
very many of which have reached the highest level of 

We have to thank the Masonic fraternity for the 
revival. Mr. W. H. Read was District Grand Master 
and patron of the performance ; the programme de- 
signed was a " blue " Mason's apron with appropriate 
emblems, and the brethren turned out in full regalia 
and jewellery. The first piece was a farce called A Fast 
Train ! High Pressure ! ! Express ! ! ! which ought 
to have damned it but did not, for it was a great success. 
The second was called D'ye know me now? and this 
expression remained for long a great Singapore catch 
phrase. In it Mr. T. de M. Braddell (now Sir Thomas 
Braddell) made his debut as Nogo Dumps. The paper 
said that " Mr. Braddell's debut on the Singapore 
stage was a thorough red-letter day for the Amateur 
Dramatic Corps in having secured such a valuable 
addition to its staff." For the next eight years he 
played an active part in theatricals, and was a par- 
ticularly good actor in tragedy and Henry Irving parts. 
Amongst the Masonic fraternity was also Mr. J. P. 
Joaquim, the lawyer, and at that time partner of Mr. 
Braddell, and he was a very good amateur actor. The 
Masonic performance was naturally in aid of charities, 
and resulted in the collection of a good sum. 

In 1884 the Singapore Amateur Dramatic Club put 
on The Wonderful Woman, an adaptation from the French 
by Charles Dance, an author whose plays had been 
very popular in the 'Forties. This play had been pro- 
duced at the Lyceum in 1 849, with Charles Mathews as 
the Marquis de Fontignac and Madame Vestris as the 
pretty widow, Hortense Bertrand. Mr. Streeter played 
the former and Mrs. Salzmann the latter. Of her 
performance the paper said : 


" Mrs. Salzmann as the Marchioness was irresistible. 
Her pretty face, engaging manners, and natural acting 
took the house by storm. She was greeted with vigorous 
applause throughout the piece." 

This is the first of many roles in which Mrs. Salzmann 
has delighted Singapore audiences, and it is appropriate 
that the first mention of her is in The Wonderful Woman, 
for if ever there was a wonderful woman she is Mrs. Salz- 
mann. Her last appearance on the stage was in His 
Excellency the Governor in 1906, but she still continues to 
win prizes in tennis tournaments, and it seems little more 
than yesterday since she last sang in public. What 
a wonderful voice she had, and what expression she 
put into her songs ! The following lines from Straits 
Produce were written to her in 1895, entitled " To 
Singapore's Songstress " : 

I've come from a Smoker, 

I'm wearied with noise, 

Last night I played poker 

With some of the hoys ; 

And I think, as I lie back — I'm not sleepy yet, 

And I drowsily puff out a last cigarette — 

What is the use of it when it's all done — 

Blatant tom-foolery, where is the fun ? 

And I know, that's the worst, that none of the throng 

Can move me as you, with one simple sweet song. 

" Queen of the Fairies," " Ruth," proud " Gypsy Queen," 

" Katisha" — each in their turn you have been. 
As each you've excelled ; — ^yet I do you no wrong 
In preferring to each — one simple sweet song. 

Full of soft dignity, graciously sweet. 
Rings out round melody, ever replete 
With womanly sympathy. May you e'er long 
Entrance me again with a simple sweet song I 

Mr. R. W. Braddell made his debut in The Wonderful 
Woman as Crepin the Cobbler and made a great hit ; 
a song with a chorus of cobblers was specially introduced 
for him at Mr. Salzmann's suggestion, and proved an 
attraction. Mr. Bob Braddell was a comedian, and 
sang a good comic song. Mr. J. P. Joaquim also 


appeared in the play, and the orchestra was under 
Mr. Wallace, of Sym^ and Co. 

In 1 885 the Amateur Club expanded into the Singapore 
Amateur Dramatic and Musical Society. They played 
Freezing a Mother-in-Law and Lend me Five Shillings j 
with which was interspersed some charming music 
by Mr. Edward Salzmann, Mrs. G. M. Dare (now Mrs. 
G. P. Owen), and Miss Capel. 

In the first play Mrs. Merewether played Mrs. 
Watmuff. She was a sister of Mr. T. de M. Braddell, 
who played Mr. Watmuff. Mrs., or Lady, Merewether, 
as she is now, was a most useful member of the Club, 
for in addition to being a good actress, she always 
played the piano in the musical plays, and was a very 
skilful accompanist. In the second play Mrs. Salzmann 
and Mrs. Braddell (wife of Mr. T. de M. Braddell) 
acted, as also did Mr. (now Sir) E. M. Merewether, Mr. 
(now Sir) E. W. Birch, and Mr. A. Y. Gahagan, of the 
Telegraph Company, who for long was Singapore's 
leading comedian, and one of the best sportsmen and 
most popular men who ever came here. 

It will be seen that up to now the amateurs had 
been content to play very old-fashioned, out-of-date 
plays ; but in 1887 a change was made, and two London 
successes of a more modern character were put on. 
This marked a distinct advance in local theatricals, 
and heralded a new era. 

In 1887 the amateurs played Mark Melford's famous 
farcical comedy Turned Upy and scored a great success, 
the audiences being packed. Mr. T. de M. Braddell 
played General Baltic; Mr. J. C. D. Jones plaj^ed 
Carraway Bones, and stage-managed. Mrs. (now Lady) 
Braddell played Mary Medway, and the paper said 
that she did it so splendidly that the part might have 
been written for her. Mr. A. Y. Gahagan played the 
female character, and appeared on the programme as 
Miss Gahagan, but it was a low comedy part. Miss 
Wishart (now Mrs. J. D. Saunders) made her debut 
with success, as also did Miss Dennys (now Lady Murray). 


Mr. J. C. H. Darby, of the Telegraph Co., painted 
the scenery for this play, as he did for so many others 
later, and the paper picked the scenery out for special 

Turned Up was followed in the same year by Two 
Roses, James Albery's famous comedy, in which Henry 
Irving had scored so great a success as Digby Grant, 
which part Mr. T. de M. Braddell took, Mr. A. Y. 
Gahagan playing Caleb Deecie and Panjang Jones 
Our Mr. Jenkins. Mrs. Salzmann was Our Mrs. Jenkins 
and Mrs. G. M. Dare Mrs. Cupps. The play was an 
ambitious effort, but judging by the critiques it was 
a great success, though not so great as Turned Up, 
which, in theatrical parlance, the audiences had simply 
eaten up. 

In -June 1888 The Crimson Scarf, a comic opera in 
one act by H. B. Farnie and J. E. Legouix, was put on. 
Mr. Robert Dunman appeared as Cornarino, and his 
bass voice was heard to great advantage ; this is the 
first mention of him. Mr. W. G. St. Clair played 
Sassaprasso, Mr. William Dunman Ernesto, and Mr. 
G. P. Owen Marco. The ladies were Mrs. Simon, wife 
of Dr. 'M. F. Simon, a Government surgeon, as Bianca, 
and Mrs. G. M. Dare as Tessa. Mrs. Simon had a 
magnificent voice, and was a very clever actress as well. 
Mr. T. de M. Braddell stage-managed and Mr. Salzmann 
was the Musical Director. The little play was a great 
success ; but its importance is that it was the germ out 
of which arose the splendid series of Gilbert and Sullivan 
operas that will be mentioned later. 

The Crimson Scarf was put on again in 1 897, being 
preceded by a curtain-raiser called A Bad Penny. 
The parts in the former were all differently cast, but 
the opera scored as big a success as before. 

The late King Edward, when he was Prince of Wales, 
made nigger minstrels all the rage in the 'Eighties, and 
the first entertainment of that type was at the TangHn 
Club in November 1888. The party called themselves 
The Bulbuls, and one of the features of the entertainment 


was a topical song written by Mrs. G. P. Owen, and 

entitled " Dear me ! Is that possible? " One of its 

verses shows a remarkable coincidence ; it was as 
follows : 

Now there's the GambUng Ordinance I 
No lotteries, sweeps, or games of chance : 
We're not allowed our own free will 
To drop six fifty in his till — 
The Beak has squashed the Gosling's Bill. 

The reference w^as to the Manila lotteries, which had 
been held to be illegal here, though legal in Manila, 
and the GosHng was Mr. T. L. Goshng, who in his day 
was a very successful singer of comic songs ; his sons 
and daughters will be remembered for their cleverness 
in the pantomimes which at one time Mrs. GosHng 
used to get up, and which were so successful. 

Compare the above topic with the following from 
''When the Clock strikes Thirteen," sung by Mr. T. C. 
Maxwell in The Flats performance in 191 8, just thirty 
years after : 

A Council of wise men to guide us we've got, 
And we're thankful indeed for this fact. 

For they've settled quite plain 

We may gamble again 
Without breaking the Gaming House Act. 

The reference was to the Our Day Lotteries, which 
had been legalised at last by amendment of the law. 
The Hon. Mr. F. S. James, C.M.G., who is an ex- 
ceptionally tall man, was the organiser of the very 
successful Our Days, and one of the lines announced 
that " it's a very long James that can't turn." Rather 
a difference to 1888, but the end justified the means. 
Nigger minstrel shows continued to be got up occa- 
sionally until 1902, when the last occurred. 

In 1888 the amateurs put on Robertson's famous play 
Caste, in which Mr. J. C. D. Jones gave a wonderful 
performance as Samuel Gerridge. 

In 1888 the ballet Robert Macaire had scored a great 
II — 26 


success at the Empire in London, and perhaps it was 
this that led the amateurs to put on the play of that 
name in 1889. An old version had been put on in 
1862, when Mr. Robert Barclay Read played the title- 
role, and Mr. Tidman, of the Borneo Co., played 

The play put on in 1889 was Charles Selby's melo- 
drama, and Mr. T. de M. Braddell played the tragic 
part of the murderer Macaire, his brother, Mr. R. W. 
Braddell, playing the cowardly Strop, and being respon- 
sible for the comic element. It is amusing to read 
at this date that the brothers Braddell brought down 
the house in their step-dance ! Mr. Howard Newton 
was the officer in charge of the gendarmes, and sang 
some splendid songs, including one called " Vive 
I'Amour," which was a great hit. Mr. Howard Newton 
is still referred to as ** Singapore's only tenor," for 
he had a most magnificent voice. He was Municipal 
Engineer, but later went to Bombay. Mrs. W. J. Mayson 
and Mrs. O. P. Griffith Jones, who have so frequently 
delighted modern audiences, are daughters of his. Mr. 
Newton was one of the causes of the great success 
scored by the Gilbert and Sullivan operas now to be 

In 1889 the amateurs put on lolanthe, under the 
stage-management of Mr. T. de M. Braddell and the 
musical direction of Mr. C. O. Blagden. One of the 
leading spirits in it and its successors was Mrs. G. M. 
Dare (Mrs. G. P. Owen), and to her taste and skill in 
designing dresses, and her unflagging enthusiasm, much 
of the success was due, added to which her charming 
appearance and voice helped greatly in the work on 
the stage. How wonderfully successful these operas 
were is shown by the fact that their memory is fresh 
to this day, and they still remain a standard for com- 
parison. The Mikado being bracketed with The Geisha 
as the two greatest successes and most perfect perform- 
ances our amateurs have ever given. 

The cast of lolanthe was as follows : 

R. Dunman. Mrs. Dare. W. G. St. Clair. 


H. Newton. 

II. 392] 

Mrs. Dare Mrs. Melville Simons. Miss Wishart 

(Mrs. G. P. Owen). (Mrs. J. D. Saunders). 

" three; LITTI^E; maids FROM SCHOOI,." 
The Mikado, 1893. 



The Lord Chancellor 

The Earl of Mountararat 

The Earl of Tolloler 

Private Willis 


The Queen of the Fairies 


Phyllis . 

In January 1893 The 

following cast : 

The Mikado 
Nanki Poo 
Ko-ko . 
Pooh Bah 
Pish Tush 
Yum Yum 
Pitti Sing 
Peep Boh 

Tea Girls 

Mr. J. M. Fabris 
Mr. W. G. St. Clair 
Mr. Howard Newton 
Mr. Robert Dunman 
Mr. Horace Brett 
Mrs. Salzmann 
Miss Wishart (Mrs. 

Mrs. Donaldson 
Mrs. W. E. Hooper 
Miss L. Wishart 
Mrs. G. M. Dare 

J. D. 

Mikado was put on with the 

Mr. G. T. Batty 

Mr. E. L. Hunter 

Mr. J. M. Fabris 

Mr. Robert Dunman 

Mr. G. p. Owen 

Mrs. Melville Simons 

Mrs. G. M. Dare 

Miss Wishart (Mrs. J. D. Saun- 

Mrs. Salzmann 

Misses Nellie Salzmann and 
Mary Mackay 

Mr. J. M. Fabris stage-managed this time, and Mr. 
Salzmann was Musical Director. Mr. Fabris was in 
H. M. Becher and Co., a firm now defunct, and was 
known as " the George Grossmith of the Far East " ; no 
man ever did more than he for theatricals in Singapore. 
He was in all probability the finest amateur actor who 
has ever been here. Mrs. Melville Simons, the wife of 
Mr. H. Melville Simons, of Paterson, Simons and Co., 
made a triumphant debut in The Mikado ; she was 
very popular with the audiences, and always " got her 
stuff across," as the profession say. In many ways 
her work and methods were like those of Mrs. Roland 
Braddell to-day, so those who remember her say. 

In November 1 894 The Pirates of Penzance was per- 
formed. The present Victoria Theatre was officially 
opened with this opera in 1909 by the Singapore Amateur 
Dramatic Committee, and it is interesting to place 
the two caste side by side : 






Stanley . 

Mr. E. H. Haig. R.E. 

Mr. a. S. Bailey 

The Pirate 

King . 

Mr. p. S. Falshaw 

Mr. E. a. Brown 

Samuel . 


Mr. G. p. Owen 

Mr. J. Dewar 



Mr. H. Newton 

Mr. W. Dunman 

Sergeant of Police . 

Mr. G. T. Batty 

Mr. 0. A. KiMMEL 



Mrs. H. M. March 

Miss Ida van Cuylen 



Miss W. Cooke 

Mrs. W. J. Mayson 



Mrs. G. M. Dare 

Mrs. Roland Braddell 



Miss T. Cooke 

Miss Kerr 



Mrs. Salzmann 

Mrs. Coombe 

There can be no doubt that the 1894 cast was the 
better ; in 1909 there was no tenor, and Mr. WilUam 
Dunman had to come out of retirement and play 
Frederick, a very remarkable performance for a man 
of his age. In Mr. E. A. Brown, however, the 1909 
cast possessed the better Pirate King, and the singing 
of Miss van Cuylenburg (now Mrs. Lonsdale) was superb ; 
but Mrs. March was very good. Mrs. Coombe had a 
very fine voice, but no better than Mrs. Salzmann's, 
whereas in stage presence and acting there could be 
no comparison. Since 1909, owing to the entire absence 
of a tenor, it has been impossible to put on a Gilbert 
and Sullivan opera. The absence of tenors in Singapore 
is quite remarkable ; any other part can be filled to per- 
fection, but the tenor is ever wanting. 

In 1 896 the amateurs put on The Grand Duke, which 
was very enterprising, as the opera had been pro- 
duced at the Savoy only in March of that year. Mr. H. S. 
Ainslie, of the 5th Regiment, played Ernest Dummkopf ; 
Mr. Robert Dunman, Ludwig ; Mr. J. C. D. Jones, 
Ben Hashbaz ; Mr. G. P. Owen, the Prince of Monte 
Carlo; Mrs. Melville Simons, Julia JelHcoe ; Mrs. G. M. 
Dare, the Princess of Monte Carlo ; Mrs. J. D. Saunders, 
Gretchen ; and Mrs. W. E. Hooper, Martha. Mr. J. C. D. 
Jones stage-managed, and Mrs. Merewether was at 
the piano. 

There was a long break before the next Gilbert and 
Sullivan, and it is necessary to go back and see what 
other plays were put on in the 'Nineties. 



In 1890 came Our Boys y Mr. H. J. Byron's classic play. 
Mr. J. M. Fabris stage-managed and played the lead, 
and Mr. A. Y. Gahagan scored a considerable success, 
as did Captain Massy, R.A., and his wife. The last two 
had played in Caste, and were a very capable couple. 
Our Boys was revived in 1900, when it was played at 
Government House, Mr. Gahagan being the only one 
left of the old cast. 

In 1 891 The Private Secretary was put on, and proved 
a " terrific success," for which Mr. J. C. D. Jones was 
chiefly responsible in the title-role made famous by 
Charles Hawtrey. Mr. Gahagan also scored heavily as 
Mr. Gibson, the Bond Street tailor. Mrs. G. S. Murray 
(now Lady Murray) doubled two parts, and Mrs. (now 
Lady) Merewether played the maiden aunt. 

In 1893, the S.V.A. came out with a memorable 
performance of The Late Lamented, an adaptation by 
Fred Homer from a popular French play called Feu 
Toiipinal. The play was put on to raise funds for fitting 
up a recreation room at the S.V.A. Drill Hall, and is 
memorable as being the first occasion on which electric 
lights were used for stage purposes in Singapore. Inci- 
dentally they forgot to put the footlights on in the 
first act. Major (afterwards Sir H. E.)McCallum played 
the part of an old army officer with great success, and 
Mr. J. Bromhead Matthews (now Sir John, but then a 
partner in Braddell Brothers) played the part of an old 
crusted solicitor. Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Brydges, wife 
of the lawyer then practising here, also played parts. 

In 1894 Jerome K. Jerome's Sunset and Wilham 
Brough's Trying it on were put on at the Tanglin Club, 
but as the performances there were not open to public 
criticism, the paper could only remark that the plays 
were a success. Mr. and Mrs. Bromhead Matthews, 
Mrs. Hooper, Mr. Haigh, R.E., Mr. Harwood, late 
Sohcitor-General, and Mr. E. Ormiston, now a broker 
in Hongkong, were amongst those who acted in the plays. 

In October 1896 a three-act comedy called The Pass- 
port was put on, in which Mr. F. W. Barker, founder of 


Barker and Co., made a successful debut as Christopher 
Coleman ; Messrs. Lionel Koek, now in Malacca, and 
H. S. Ainslie, of the 5th Regiment, also made their debut. 
Mrs. Gilmore Ellis, wife of the late P.C.M.O., Dr. Gilmore 
Ellis, and Mrs. Melville Simons played the ladies' parts. 

In 1899 began the famous Wynter period, when 
Captain Wynter and his wife delighted Singapore 
audiences. Captain Wynter, besides being a good 
amateur actor, was a very fine producer and stage- 
manager. He made his debut in a play called Tom 
Cobby at the Regimental Theatre at Tanghn, while the 
King's Own were on the station. 

His first public production was a triple bill in Septem- 
ber 1 899, when Crazed, A Two-some and The Pantomime 
Rehearsal were produced ; Messrs. W. Dunman and 
C. I. Carver played in the first-named play. Captain 
Wynter's last public production was also a triple bill, 
in which The Pantom^ime Rehearsal was repeated, the 
other plays being a revival of Jerome's Sunset and a 
musical play called The Crusader and the Craven, in 
which Mr. E. A. Brown made a big hit as Blonde! Fitz 

Mr. Brown had made his debut in 1901, when The 
Grass Widow and Charley's Aunt were put on by 
Captain Wynter. In the former the widow^s were Mrs. 
Wynter and Mrs. J. A. N. Pickering. Mr. Brown made 
his debut in the part of Arthur, and received a cordial 
welcome from, the Press ; since then Singapore theatri- 
cals have owed an immense debt of gratitude to him as 
actor, singer, stage-manager, and, above all, as a voice 
trainer in musical productions. In Charley's Aunt Mr. 
J. M. Fabris played the lead, the rest of the male cast 
being, the Hon. Mr. A. Murray, Colonial Engineer (Sir 
Charles), Mr. L. Koek (Spettigue), Captain Wynter and 
Mr. E. A. Brown (Jack and Charley), and Mr. C. I. 
Carver, who made a big hit as Brassett the butler, which 
was Mr. Carver's best performance in Singapore. The 
ladies were Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Wynter, Mrs. G. S. 
Murray and Mrs. Stitt. 

"H.M.S. PINAFORE" 397 

Captain Wynter's biggest success was in April 1900 
with In Town, the first musical comedy ever written, 
according to Mr. H. G. Hibbert and other authorities. 
The play is by James Leader, with lyrics by Adrian Ross 
(the first he ever wrote for the stage), and the music by 
Dr. F. Osmond Carr. This production is memorable for 
the fact that when H.M.S. Terrible visited Singapore, 
during the Boer War, In Town was performed again for 
the sailors. Mr. Whiteside made a great hit in the part 
of the call-boy Shrimp, in which the late Edmund Payne 
first made his London name. Amongst the cast were 
Captain Wynter and Messrs. J. M; Fabris, W. Dunman, 
L. Koek, George Penny, and G. T. Greig, while the princi- 
pal ladies were Mrs. Simon and Mrs. Wynter. Mr. W. 
G. St. Clair was Musical Director. 

In November 1900, under Captain Wynter's manage- 
ment, the amateurs put on Sweet Lavender, Mr. J. M. 
Fabris playing Dick Phenyl and Mr. W. Dunman Maw 
the solicitor. With two such experienced and finished 
actors in the leading roles, it is needless to say the play 
proved a big success. Mrs. H. G. Diss as Ruth was 
very convincing ; she played several parts in Singapore, 
and is remembered as a very capable actress. 

In March 1901 Captain Wynter put on another 
musical play. At Zero, but it was not so great a success, 
though in the last act prominent citizens of Singapore 
appeared in counterfeit, to the great enjoyment of the 
audiences, the late Mr. Buckley in particular being 
cleverly portrayed. Mr. H. G. Diss, of John Little 
and Co., scored in one of the comic parts. 

In September 1902, under the stage-management of 
Mr. J. M. Fabris, the amateurs put on H.M.S. Pinafore. 
Mr. A. B. Cross, the lawyer, then in Braddell Brothers, 
made a big hit as the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, and 
proved himself a worthy successor to Mr. J. M. Fabris ; 
Mr. E. A. Brown made a splendid Captain Corcoran ; 
Mrs. Salzmann excelled even herself as Buttercup ; and 
Mr. Stewart as Dick Dead-eye was very successful. 

In December 1903 the amateurs played The Yeomen 


of the Guard. Mr. W. Dunman gave one of the finest 
performances ever seen in Singapore as Jack Point, a 
perfect piece of art. There is hardly a more dehghtful 
part to play, and Mr. Dunman played it in a way that 
any professional might have envied. Mr. C. I. Carver 
played Colonel Fairfax, Miss Edith Abrams Elsie 
Maynard, and Mrs. F. W. Barker Phoebe Merryll. The 
latter lady had played Hebe in H.M.S. Pinafore, and in 
both parts scored a great success ; Mrs. Barker was 
always a very popular performer with audiences. 

In February 1903 Liberty Hallwd^'s staged. This was 
the last time that Mr. J. C. D. Jones appeared in Singa- 
pore ; he played Luscombe. Miss Maud Newton (Mrs. 
W. J. Mayson) made her debut as Crafer, the maid, and 
since then has continually pleased Singapore audiences. 
Mr. A. Y. Gahagan also made a last appearance as 
Briginshaw. Mrs. F. W. Barker and Mrs. W. C. Michell 
played the leading ladies' parts. Mr. A. B. Cross was 
excellent as Todman. This was his last appearance 
in Singapore also, as he went shortly afterwards to 
practise in Seremban, where he was well known to 
audiences before he went to the front in the Great War. 

In June 1904 the amateurs put on the Duchess of 
Bayswater &> Co. and The Rose of Auvergne by Offenbach. 
In the latter play Mr. W. Dunman appeared as Alphonse 
the cobbler, Mr. E. A. Brown as Pierre the blacksmith, 
and Mrs. Abbot as Fleurette. This was an ideal cast, 
and made the httle play a memorable success ; Mrs. 
Abbot was always splendid in whatever she did. In 
the former play Mrs. Hooper scored a great success in 
the title-role. Singapore owed much to Mrs. Hooper in 
theatricals, and whatever part she played it was always 
splendidly done. Mr. E. E. Sykes carried off the honours 
amongst the men, giving a very memorable performance. 

We have now reached a new era in theatricals when 
the Singapore Amateur Dramatic Committee was formed 
in March 1906. The original members were the late 
Mr. E. F. H. Edhn, of Drew and Napier, President; 
Messrs. E. A. Brown, F. A. Langley, of Guthrie and Co., 


CI. 398] 

THii YL:oMHN of the guard," 1903. 


the late Mr. Frank Whitefield, C. Everitt, T. G. Tread- 
gold ; and W. J. Mayson, Hon. Secretary. Amongst 
prominent members elected to the Committee after that 
date may be mentioned the late Mr. O. A. Kimmel, of 
Barker and Co. ; Mr. J. C. H. Darby, of the Telegraph 
Co.; Mr. C. Emerson, of Sisson and Delay; Mr. F. M. 
Elhot, of Rodyk and Davidson; Mr. Claud Severn, 
C.M.G. (now Colonial Secretary at Hongkong) ; Mr. 
Roland Braddell ; and Mr. Francis Graham. Of those 
who did yeoman service for the Committee may be 
mentioned Mr. J. W. Dossett, who for long had charge 
of the scenery and technical work behind the stage ; 
the late Mr. Frank Whitefield, of the Municipality, who 
was Musical Director ; Dr. A. G. Butler, who succeeded 
as Musical Director; and as producers and stage man- 
agers, Messrs. Brown, Mayson, Braddell, and Graham. 
The Committee, which put amateur theatricals on a 
proper business-like footing and was responsible for 
several great successes, recently expanded into the 
Singapore Amateur Dramatic Society, which ought to 
have a big future. 

The first effort of the Committee took place at the 
Town Hall in April 1906, and was of a very modest 
character ; but it was the last performance that the 
amateurs gave in the old hall. A musical programme 
was combined with a one-act play called Dream Faces, in 
which Mr. C. Everitt and Miss Edith Newton (now Mrs. 
Griffith Jones) made their debut. 

A much more ambitious effort followed, when Captain 
Marshall's comedy. His Excellency the Governor, was 
put on in May 1906, at the present Victoria Memorial 
Hall. A stage was specially built and the ceihng heavily 
wired ; but even then the acoustics were shocking, and the 
play suffered as a consequence. Mr. W. J. Mayson made 
his debut in the title-role and Mrs. Salzmann made her 
last appearance. Miss Newton (Mrs. W. J. Mayson) 
was very successful as Stella de Gex ; it still remains the 
best of the many good parts she has played. 

In April 1907 the Committee put on two plays at the 


Teutonia Club, The Burglar and the Judge and Dream 
Faces. In the former the late Mr. O. A. Kimmel made 
his debut in the part of the burglar, Mr. W. J. Mayson 
being the judge. Mr. Kimmel was one of the best low 
comedians Singapore has had, being invariably successful 
in every part he played. His early death came as a 
terrible shock to all his friends behind and across the 
footlights, for he was universally a favourite. 

In July 1907 a party of amateurs produced a musical 
farce called The Rajah of Stengahpour, by Mr. J. N. 
Biggs, R.A., and Mr. Roland Braddell. It was put 
on at the Teutonia Club, and, though it had been 
refused by the Amateur Dramatic Committee, proved 
a tremendous success. In it Mrs. Roland Braddell 
made her debut, and immediately became a great 
favourite with audiences. Mr. A. S. Bailey in the title- 
role and Mr. Hugh Holland, R.A., also made their 
debut, and scored successes. The play was highly 
topical, verses being written about all the leading 
people in Singapore, who enjoyed listening to them, 
fortunately. The play was an innovation in every way, 
and its success led to other amateur-written musical 
plays. The Singapore Free Press said : "A stranger 
dropping into the back of the Hall [the Teutonia Club] 
last evening might well have been excused for im- 
agining for a moment that he was back again in the 
pit of a home theatre during pantomime. Singapore, 
the stiff and rather staid Singapore, was actually 
humming the choruses, and that is something which has 
not happened for many a long year, if it ever did, of 
which one has doubts." 

In December 1907 the Committee put on H. V. 
Esmond's comedy One Summer's Day, but it was not 
a very great success, the play being unsuited to the 
cast, and the stage at the Teutonia Club cramping the 
actors and scenery. Mrs. Hooper made her last appear- 
ance in the part of Chiara. 

In August 1908 the Committee put on a show at the 
Teutonia Club on the lines of the Follies. It was the 


first of its kind in Singapore, and was managed and 
arranged by Mr. Roland Braddell, who wrote a potted 
pantomime The Babes in the Wood for the second part. 
The company called themselves the Starboard Lights, 
and wore emerald green costumes. The performance 
bristled with topicalities, and Mr. Hugh Holland and 
Mrs. Braddell were responsible for a great deal of its 
success. The Free Press described it as the '' most 
extravagantly funny variety entertainment put on the 
stage in Singapore for years." Mr. Claud Severn's 
imitation of a kangaroo hopping brought down the house 
and nearly brought down the stage ! He and Mrs. 
Braddell were the Babes. 

The next effort of the Committee has already been 
mentioned : The Pirates of Penzance, in February 1909, 
with which the new theatre was officially opened. It 
was a triumphant success, for which Mr. E. A. Brown's 
stage management was largely responsible. 

In the next month the Committee put on The Ghost of 
Jerry Bundler, by W. W. Jacobs, and a musical skit The 
Pirates of Pulau Brani, by Mr. Roland Braddell. Both 
proved very acceptable. 

In October 1909 the Committee tried a daring experi- 
ment with a costume play Under the Red Robe, The 
play, perhaps, was not a success with the public, but it 
was magnificently mounted, and Mr. H. A. Courtney, 
of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, gave a notable 
performance as Cardinal Richelieu. 

In November 19 10 the Committee put on The Magis- 
trate, which proved a success. Mr. O. A. Kimmel in the 
title-role was splendid, and kept the house in roars of 
laughter ; Mr. T. G. Treadgold also gave a very sound 
performance, while all the parts were most creditably 
rendered. The ladies were Mrs. Roland Braddell, 
Mrs. J. C. Murray, and Mrs. Buckland, wife of the Agent 
of the P. and O. Company. 

In October and November 191 2 the Committee put 
on The Geisha, which proved to be the finest and most 
finished production ever done by amateurs in Singapore. 


Scenery was got out from home, the costumes were 
carried out by Messrs. Yamato and Co., under the super- 
vision of Mrs. C. H. P. Hay, the dances were arranged 
by Mrs. W. J. Mayson, the cast and chorus contained 
fifty-four performers, and the orchestra was magnificent 
under Mr. Hewitt, Bandmaster of the Buffs. As the 
Free Press said : '' There have been triumphs for the 
amateurs before, but this is the crowning triumph." 
The two principal roles upon which the success of the 
play greatly depends are those of O Mimosa San and 
Molly Seamore ; these were played by Miss Ida van 
Cuylenburg (now Mrs. Lonsdale) and Mrs. Roland 
Braddell, and the parts might have been written for 
them. Of the former the Straits Times said : "Her 
performance was more than a success, it was an artistic 
triumph," and that " it was intense whole-hearted 
admiration that made the audience call and call again 
for repetitions of her part." Miss van Cuylenburg's 
magnificent soprano was shown to its best advantage in 
the lovely numbers which the part contains, and her 
acting was perfect. It was a performance which will 
live in the minds of all who saw it. Of Mrs. Braddell 
the Straits Times said : "If ever Mr. Owen Hall is 
Galled upon to justify his libretto, he should seek an 
introduction to our Molly Seamore," " she made it all 
a merry romp, singing, dancing, flirting, teasing with 
such a whole-hearted zest and with so little of the 
strain of artificiality that the audience joined her in 
the spirit of fun and took delight in every moment she 
was on the stage." 

If you want to see Mr. E. A. Brown at his best, see 
him in a Hayden Coffin part. As Lieutenant Reginald 
Fairfax he was magnificent ; his song " Star of my Soul " 
was one of the finest things in the play, which he stage- 
managed and produced. But of the men Mr. C. H. P. 
Hay as Wun Hi stood out the most. The Straits Times 
said : " Mr. Hay appears for the first time here, but he 
is an actor of quite exceptional merit, and he played the 
cunning Chinaman to perfection. His dance in the 


last act was a revelation, and made one conclude that 
the best amateur may equal the professional." Mr. 
O. A. Kimmel played the Marquis Imari on the first 
night, but had to drop out of the caste owing to his 
wife's illness. Mr. W. J. Mayson then did a thing that 
for an amateur was wonderful ; he went on without 
rehearsal and read the part off the backs of fans, which 
were changed as necessary. Probably not a soul in 
the audience realised that he was not speaking the part 
from memory, as he did later during the seven perfor- 
mances of the play. 

In March 1914 the Committee put on a triple bill, 
Dream Faces, Bernard Shaw's How he lied to her Husband, 
and The Ghost of Jerry Bundler. Mr. J. R. Moore gave 
a notable performance in the second play, as did Mrs. 
Wilfred Hunt, whose acting was particularly commented 
upon by the Straits Times. 

In April 19 14 the Committee combined with the 
K.O. Y.L.I. , then stationed here, and gave a vaudeville 
entertainment with The House of Nightingales, in which 
Mr. J. R. Moore and Mrs. W. J. Mayson gave finished 

The day of revue had now arrived, so in December 
191 5 the Committee put on My Word ! 3. revue written 
and produced by Messrs. Roland Braddell and Francis 
Graham, preceded by a Folly entertainment entitled 
The Queries, in which the costumes were designed by 
Mr. Edward Collier, and were very quaint and effective. 
The revue scored a huge success. The Straits Times 
said : " Indeed, the simple truth is that we have never 
seen out East anything better, and rarely anything quite 
so good, as the tout ensemble last night. It was a credit 
to all concerned." The dresses were designed by Mr. 
Edward Collier and carried out by Robinson and Co., 
and of them the Straits Times said : " It is no small credit 
to Singapore that it has been able to produce dresses 
and costumes that would do no discredit to a London 
stage." Mr. Graham made his Singapore debut in the 
revue, and proved himself a finished actor and a great 


acquisition to the Committee ; Mrs. Thomas and Mr. 
E. A. Brown made a great hit with their duet " They'd 
never beUeve me," which as a consequence was whistled, 
sung, and played all over Singapore, till one got sick of 
the sound of it ! Mrs. Roland Braddell gave a very 
finished performance, and made her rag-time songs 
thoroughly popular ; but her best number was " Military 
Mary Ann," with very good business by the full chorus. 
Mr. J. Dewar, who is always splendid, excelled as Horatio 
Buggs, his make-up being particularly good. Altogether 
the Committee had a most satisfactory success, and the 
Officers' Families' Fund received a very substantial draft ; 
but the various sums raised by the Committee during the 
War will be given later. 

In July 191 6, under Mr. Brown's stage-management, 
the Committee repeated The Queries, and added to it 
A Lay of Ancient Rome, a musical skit, in which Mr. O. 
A. Kimmel and Mrs. Roland Braddell scored well. 

In December 1916 the Committee put on another 
revue, written and produced by Messrs. Braddell and 
Graham, entitled Here's fun ! and scored another 
triumphant success. The scenery was designed and 
painted by Mr. Edward Collier, and was the finest 
amateur-painted scenery ever seen in Singapore. The 
first scene was set in a mythical place called Tebessa, 
and the curtain rose to a pitch-dark stage ; after a 
pause the full lights went on with a flash, and disclosed 
a wonderful Oriental set, going back the full depth of 
the stage and showing a street and market-place with 
Arab men and women, shops, and street vendors. The 
costumes in this revue were particularly fine, and were 
carried out by Mrs. F. W. King, with native tailors, 
and also by Messrs. Robinson and Co. Mr. Graham and 
Mrs. Roland Braddell again scored great successes ; Mrs. 
Griffith Jones sang a beautiful song, with a violin accom- 
paniment by Mr. R. L. Eber, who played the part of 
a travelhng musician. Mrs. Monro and Mr. H. A. 
Stallwood were very good in the parts of a maid and a 
man-servant, and brought the house down with their 


duet in the first act. The cast and chorus numbered 
fifty. Both in this revue and in My Word ! the orchestra 
was under the charge of Dr. A. G. Butler, and was very 
fine ; indeed, the successes scored by the two revues 
were largely due to the magnificent playing of the 
orchestra, in which on both occasions Mr. F. Martens 
and the members of the Europe Hotel Orchestra gave 
their valuable services free of charge. The Free Press 
said of Here's Fun! " The stage effects are such as 
Singapore can scarcely have seen before, and the whole 
production is a spectacular treat." 

In December 191 7 the Committee put on Pinero's 
Dandy Dick, under Mr. Brown's stage-management. It 
was undoubtedly the best production of a non-musical 
play that the Committee ever did, the cast being well 
balanced and the principal roles admirably played. 
Mr. W. J. Mayson was splendid as the Dean, and his wife 
scored heavily in the part of the Dean's sporting sister. 
The Free Press described their performances as undoubted 
triumphs. Mrs. Grayburn made a very successful debut 
as the Dean's toy child, the part of his other daughter 
being played by Mrs. Roland Braddell with her usual 
success. Mr. Turner and Mr. Brown played the parts 
of the officers, the former making a successful debut. 

In 19 19 the Singapore Amateur Dramatic Society 
produced a most enjoyable children's performance, 
arranged and produced by Mrs. W; J. Mayson, the feature 
of which was the splendid dancing which she arranged. 

Naturally, all the productions by the Committee 
during the War were for charities, and a very large sum 
of money was raised, as the following figures show : 

1915 Queries and My Word! .... 5,209 

1916 Queries Q-nd Lay of Ancient Rome . . 3,230 
191 6 " Our Day " Variety Performance . . 1,537 

1916 Here's Fun! ...... 7,790 

191 7 " Our Day " Variety Performance . . 1,260 
191 7 Dandy Dick ...... 4,000 

1 91 9 Children's Performance .... 3,500 

This gives a total of $26,526, in addition to which 
Mrs. Oldman and Mrs. Braddell got up an entertainment 


in 191 8 called The Flats, which made a profit of $5,266, 
and was a memorable success, with some clever local 
skits in it. The record houses are : in a two-performance 
show, $1 ,833 by The Flats ; in a three-performance show, 
$1,748 by Dandy Dick) and for a more than three- 
performance show, $1,637 by Here's Fun I 

It may be thought that too much space has been 
devoted to amateur theatricals, but the excuse must be 
that they form such enjoyable interludes in life here, 
and that their record contains the names of so many 
well-known Singaporeans. 

By Edwin A. Brown 

The characteristic of organised musical effort in Singa- 
pore has been that it was ephemeral, and that it suffered 
from want of tenor soloists and a proper concert hall ; 
as Mr. Buckley says under the date 1865 : " From time 
to time in Singapore small parties for practising music 
had been formed, but never attained length of life." He 
goes on to mention that in 1865 the Amateur Musical 
Society was formed among the English community, and 
mustered about thirty to forty members. The German 
Teutonia Club had its Liedertafel some years before. 
The A.M.S. was at first conducted by the organist of 
St. Andrew's Cathedral, but the mainspring of it was 
Mr. Neil Macvicar (Martin, Dyce and Co.), who came 
out in the same year as Mr. Arthur Knight, 1 860. The 
first concert was given on the 28th December 1865, and 
included the overture to The Caliph of Bagdad and 
Haydn's first quintette. Thomas and Charles Crane 
sang the " Larboard Watch," and C. B. Buckley made 
his first appearance and sang the first solo in the 
Town Hall, " The Village Blacksmith." Another con- 
cert was given in 1 866. There was also the Philharmonic 
Society of St. Cecilia at this time. The Committee of 
the S.A.M.S. in 1867 included C. B. Buckley, Dr. J. H. 
Robertson (father of Dr. Murray Robertson), and J. R. 


II. 406] 


Macarthur (Hamilton, Gray) ; Mr. W. Hole was Honorary 
Secretary and Treasurer and Edward d 'Almeida 
Conductor. Apparently by 1 872 the Society had ended. 
The first public notice of Mr. Edward Salzmann 
appears in the March papers of 1874 : " Mr. Salzmann, 
late of the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, and 
Professor of Music at the Royal Naval College, London, 
has been appointed organist of St. Andrew's Cathedral." 
On the nth March of that year Madame Arabella 
Goddard gave a concert here, at which Mr. Salzmann, 
Mr. Buckley, and Mr. Crane performed. Mr. Salzmann 
had succeeded a Mr. I burg, who left for Shanghai after 
a short stay here, his predecessor at St. Andrew's being 
Mr. E. B. Fentum. If Mr. Salzmann could have been 
induced to write his musical memories of Singapore, this 
article would have been unnecessary. An amateur 
orchestra was founded in 1884, and in 1888 he was 
conductor. The orchestra gave a popular promenade 
concert on the 9th May 1887, when an orchestra of 
twenty-seven played, under three conductors, Mr. J. E. 
Light, Mr. Salzmann, and Mr. Galistan. This was 
probably Mr. St. Clair's first appearance in music in 
Singapore, and he played the contra-bass. Among 
those who took part were Mrs. Dare and Mrs. Salzmann, 
R. Dunman, Miss Aitken, N. B. Westerhout, H. Laugher. 
Indeed, since his arrival in Singapore Mr. Salzmann's 
name was associated, directly or indirectly, with every 
musical and dramatic production for a quarter of a 
century. He retired from the post of organist of the 
Cathedral in 191 8, having then probably attended more 
weddings (in church) than anyone east of Suez. Mr. 
Salzmann held, and time has shown that he was right, 
that continuous musical practices would not succeed. 
He therefore used to call his choir together for a particular 
effort and collect his orchestra, practising assiduously 
for a time, giving a successful concert, and then giving 
musical effort a rest. " Mr. Salzmann's Choir " included 
all the musical talent of the place, and the results were 
so successful that he handed over the management of his 
II — 27 


choir to a committee, retaining the conductorship for 
some years. At a compHmentary concert on the 5th 
May 1893 Sir Charles Warren made a presentation to 
Mr. and Mrs. Salzmann on their going home, after 
eighteen years' stay in Singapore, and in his reply Mr. 
Salzmann mentioned that he was going to ransack the 
music-shops to find suitable material for the Society. 
How successful he was the next few years show. 

The Singapore Philharmonic Society was formed 
in March 1891 on the initiative of Mr. W. G. St. Clair. 
On a basis of subscribing members who were to have 
admission to concerts and musical evenings for their 
subscription, the Society was warmly received. The 
first concert was given on the 7th December 1891, and 
consisted of Co wen's Rose Maiden and a miscellaneous 
selection. There was available at that time Mr. C. A. 
Rauch's musical party, consisting of Messrs. C. A. Ranch, 
A. Seumenicht, P. Schabert, E. Lanz, and R. Kinder- 
vater, who gave delightful and high - class chamber 
music. With the Society's orchestra and a choir which 
was formed a considerable musical revival sprang up. 
The first public performance of the Society of 1 892 took 
place on the 6th June, with selections from the Messiah, 
chorus and instrumentalists numbering over a hundred. 
But a musical evening at Government House in the 
previous March, with selections from oratorios, was 
a great success. Miss Shelford and Mr. Arthur Crane, 
Miss Grey, Mr. Bromhead Matthews, and Mrs. Finlayson 
took part in this, as well as Miss Clementi Smith, the 
Governor's daughter. Mr. Salzmann in 1 893 conducted 
at an oratorio concert at the Town Hall, the first part 
being selections from the Elijah. The activity lasted 
for some years. Rossini's Stabat Mater was given 
again in 1896, under Mr. Salzmann, the principal 
vocalists being Mrs. Melville Simons, Mrs. Salzmann, 
Miss Sharp, Miss Bogle, Mr. Newton, and Mr. Dunman. 
This was a highly enjoyable performance also. The 
orchestra, under Mr. W. G. St. Clair, had a short time 
previously given a popular concert, at which there was 


an exceptionally large attendance, and in the previous 
May Mr. Salzmann had conducted a combined choral 
and orchestral concert — three big musical events in one 
year. The year 1895 was an active one musically. 
In January Alfred Gaul's cantata Ruth was per- 
formed. March saw the production of the Crusaders ^ 
and December Lauda Sion, all under the baton of Mr. 
Salzmann. In 1902 the Society gave two choral 
concerts, two orchestral, two musical evenings for 
members, and one at Government House. The 
membership numbered 244, and in addition to concert 
giving and practice, encouragement was afforded to 
young players. The activity was sustained till 1905, 
and Mr. Whitefield, who died in 191 1, had taken over 
the choral work, Mr. St. Clair conducting the orchestra. 
The Society gave the Rose Maiden again. In 1906 
the work of the Society was hampered by the letting 
of the Town Hall for the Tanjong Pagar Arbitra- 
tion, and in 1907 the demolition of the Town Hall 
to construct the present theatre was begun. This 
handicapped the Society greatly. Nevertheless, by 
storing the music at the Teutonia Club and practising 
at the Tanglin Club some excellent concerts were given. 
But the loss of the Town Hall was fatal to the musical 
activity of the Society, the Memorial Hall being too 
big and expensive and the theatre being unsuitable. 
1908-9 were slack years, but the President never lost 
hope of securing a proper concert hall. In 19 10 he 
propounded a scheme for a concert hall, and secured 
much support financially. In this year Mr. and Mrs. 
Noel Trotter, at a cost of £650, generously presented 
to the Society a complete set of orchestral instruments 
of the Philharmonic pitch, constant trouble having 
arisen over the difficulty of conforming to the Kneller 
Hall pitch, which the military bands had adopted. 
The fine set of instruments was used at a concert at 
the Teutonia Club. Orchestral practices were resumed 
in 191 1, but the handicap of having no home proved 
too much. Mr. St. Clair's energies, until he retired 


in 1 91 6, were devoted to the provision of a concert hall, 
for which Mr. Manasseh Meyer generously promised 
to provide a fine organ. The site was secured, plans 
drawn, a number of subscriptions raised, when the 
War intervened, and the hall has not yet been begun. 
The experience of the Philharmonic Society shows how 
necessary a concert hall is for Singapore. 

It is not possible to enumerate all the concerts given 
in Singapore by professional musicians, generously 
assisted by the amateurs. In 1889 Miss Amy Sherwin 
took a leading part in a performance of the Stabat Mater 
with Mr. Salzmann's choir, in which Mrs. Salzmann sang 
*^ Quis est homo" with Miss Amy Sherwin. The cele- 
brated artiste also played in Turned up. Mr. Salzmann 
conducted concerts for Madame Mendelssohn and Signor 
Orlandini, at which Mrs. Salzmann and Mr. Howard 
Newton sang. 

During the last fifteen to twenty years musical 
effort has passed through many vicissitudes, and 
cannot be said to have been crowned with success. 
It may be that life in the Colony has become much 
more strenuous than it used to be, and that after a 
day's work people do not feel inclined for further 
effort ; but principally, we think, the explanation lies 
in the somewhat curious fact that new arrivals in the 
Colony during the period mentioned have not been 
markedly musical, certainly have not been possessed 
of any outstanding talent. Reasons could possibly be 
found for this fact, but there is no need to go into them 
here. As for instrumentalists, we can hardly point to 
a single Briton who could be considered as a good 
soloist, with the exception of A. P. Ager and Mr. and 
Mrs. R. L. Eber. Of the aliens, mostly Germans, 
we can remember names like Asmuss, Lanz, Wach, 
Seumenicht, Mrs. Gad, Mrs. von Kilian, and of course 
Mrs. Becker, and that prince of good fellows and most 
versatile performers on the 'cello, Valois. As regards 
singers, about the only foreigner whose name will be 
found figuring as a soloist is E. Lehrenkrauss, of Behn, 


Meyer and Co. ; but the British population was not much 
better off, for with the possible exception of J. G. Kirk, 
a man with a small but sweet tenor voice, no tenor 
really worthy of the name has honoured Singapore 
with his presence since " Billy " Dunman's and Howard 
Newton's day. For sopranos, also, musical society 
looked in vain, and during the first few years of the 
century the British community searched among them- 
selves for one without success. Madame Brandt used 
to fill the duties of soprano soloist in those days. 
Curiously enough, the Colony has never wanted for 
a good contralto. Mrs. Salzmann was still going very 
strong in 1901, and the writer well remembers a concert 
at the Tanglin Club, given by a Russian operatic singer 
of good repute, in which none of the runs and trills 
and " tricks of the trade " of that professional could 
equal Mrs. Salzmann 's rendering of a simple little English 
song, a great favourite of hers, " The Old Grey Mare." 
Then Mrs. Arthur Barker, and after her Mrs. F. W. 
Barker, successively filled the contralto role, and there 
has always been a good reliable voice for concert work. 
At the present time we have Mrs. McCullagh, an Irish 
lady with all the Irish enthusiasm for music, and with 
probably as good a voice as has ever been heard in 
the Colon3\ Mr. Brown's arrival in 1901 gave the 
Colony a baritone to fill the vacancy caused by Robert 
Dunman's retirement, and he is still with us. 

So much for those who have " faced the footlights," 
and they have not been many. But we do not find 
much evidence of general private musical effort. 
H. Laugher, the old Raffles schoolmaster, whose per- 
formances on the flageolet will be remembered by some, 
used to try to run a vocal quartette party in his rooms ; 
but it was difficult to find the necessary voices, and 
the effort did not last very long. Then Frank White- 
field tried a male voice choir in connection with the 
Philharmonic, and that, too, had only a short life. The 
truth is that neither the talent nor the enthusiasm for 
the exercise of it existed in the place. We remember 


well attending a big afternoon reception at the house 
of a well-known Tuan Besar, and the garden party- 
being spoilt by rain. The company collected in the 
drawing room, and music was suggested. Out of, we 
suppose, fifty British ladies not one could be found 
who could play an accompaniment ! On another occa- 
sion a lady gave specially a musical evening, invited 
all the principal singers, and never provided for the 
accompanying of their songs ! These little reminiscences 
go to show the absence of that " sense of music " which 
is so necessary to successful musical effort. 

In looking back over the past twenty years some 
outstanding efforts come to one's mind. There was, 
for instance, the Messiah concert, arranged for by a 
committee of gentlemen with Mr. Gahagan at their 
head, which concert was organised and conducted by 
Mr. Salzmann. It took place in that glorious room 
for music, the upper room of the old Town Hall, and 
the choir and orchestra could not have numbered 
much less than one hundred and fifty. Madame Brandt 
was the soprano soloist, Mrs. Salzmann and Mrs. Arthur 
Barker shared the honours of the contralto between 
them, Mr. Kirk was the tenor, and Mr. Brown the 
bass. Little points about that concert still stick in 
one's mind : for instance, Mrs. Salzmann 's singing of 
" He shall feed His flock," and the refusal of a certain 
gentleman, well in the front of the audience, to stand 
up during the " Hallelujah Chorus " ! This concert 
was followed next year by another of the same descrip- 
tion, in which the first part of the programme consisted 
of selections from Sir Michael Costa's Eli. It is in- 
teresting to remember that Mr. Salzmann had probably 
played that oratorio often under the personal con- 
ductorship of Sir Michael, who was Conductor of the 
Royal Italian Opera Company while Mr. Salzmann 
was a member of the orchestra. The next musical 
effort that one remembers, outside the region of dramatic 
entertainment, was the formation of a choir to sing 
at the official reception of the present King and Queen, 


then Duke and Duchess of York. This choir was also 
arranged and conducted by Mr. Salzmann, who was 
presented to their Royal Highnesses at the conclusion of 
the ceremony. Another choir of large dimensions was 
formed later on for the occasion of the Coronation 
of King Edward VII. On this occasion Mr. Lewis, 
a new comer to the Colony from Shanghai, sang the 
solo in " Land of Hope and Glory." Mr. Salzmann 
was again responsible for the choir and orchestra, 
which latter, as usual, contained many Germans. 

With the above exceptions the times that united 
musical effort has been attempted in the Settlement 
have been few. The Philharmonic Choir was still in 
existence at the beginning of the century, and was 
attracting a fair number, but it soon fell away, and 
was given up as hopeless, and spasmodic efforts, such 
as the Rose Maiden under Mr. Whitefield, were 
the only sign that choral singing need not altogether 
be looked upon as a lost art. Later on a private 
choral society, or rather a denominational one, was 
formed at the instance of several ladies and gentlemen 
of the congregation of St. Andrew's Cathedral, Mr. 
Brown being appointed conductor. The scheme of 
running the Society in sessions was here tried for the 
first time. The first session was most enthusiastic, 
and an excellent concert, consisting in the main of 
unaccompanied old-fashioned glees, was given in the 
Teutonia Club, and was a great success. Everyone 
looked upon the Cathedral Glee Society as firmly estab- 
lished. At the first practice of the next session only 
the conductor and the accompanist turned up I And 
so this effort also followed its predecessors in the way 
that all united musical effort seems to take in Singapore. 
In 191 7 the Philharmonic Choral Society was re- 
suscitated again, mainly at the instance of several 
ladies and gentlemen who had not been in operatic 
work, but who nevertheless said they wished to sing. 
Again an enthusiastic first session was the result, but the 
second died off, and although an attempt was made to 


recover the enthusiasm by the inclusion of an orchestra, 
the latter was never really a success owing to the lack 
of players, and to-day the Choral Society only exists 
as a committee pledged to carry on the children's 
concerts until the time seems to be more ripe for 
restarting the choir. 

No article on music during the past twenty years 
would be complete without some mention of the military 
bands that have been here. After the South African 
War the first white regiment to arrive here was the 
Manchesters, straight from South Africa, followed 
in a couple of years by the Sherwood Foresters, 
both with no bands to speak of, although individual 
members played regularly in the Philharmonic Orchestra. 
But the Settlement later on was lucky to be the abode 
of a battalion of the West Kent Regiment, with a band 
reputed to be one of the finest in the marching regiments 
of the British Army. And right well they sustained their 

There are people here who will still remember the 
shock they got when, at a concert at the Tanglin Club, 
the band laid down its instruments and sang an un- 
accompanied glee. As a matter of fact, they could do 
more than this. They used to entertain the regiment 
once a month, and as they possessed a number of good 
comedians in their ranks, and besides going out of the 
ordinary rut in their instrumental music, being adepts 
at quartettes on the trombones, trios for clarionets, 
etc., a good programme was always assured. But the 
climax was reached one night when at the end of the 
programme the whole band stripped, and gave as 
good a combined gymnastic display as has ever been 
seen in Singapore. It is interesting to note that the 
then gymnastic instructor was Sergeant Guest, of the 
Aldershot Gymnastic Staff, who afterwards turned up 
in Singapore during the War as Major Guest, in command 
of the wing of the Middlesex Battalion stationed here. 
Mr. McElvey was the Conductor of this collection of 
versatile artists, and " McElvey 's Boys," as they 


used to be called, will long be remembered in the East. 
Another band with a good sound musical training was 
that of the Buffs, who came here later on. Not perhaps 
so excellent in their versatility, they were nevertheless 
quite as noticeable for the class of music they played, 
and their programmes were quite as ambitious as those 
of the West Kents. The Conductor, Mr. Hewitt, was 
excellent with a choir, and in fact the band formed the 
orchestra at the A.D.C.'s production of The Geisha^ and 
gave the finishing touches to that most artistic and 
very successful production. 

The band of the " Koylis " (or King's Own Yorkshire 
Light Infantry), the last regiment of the old army to be 
stationed here before the War, was also one that must 
not be forgotten when mentioning military music, 
although perhaps not reaching the pitch of excellence 
attained by the West Kents and Buffs. 



By Walter Makepeace 
The Reads : C. R., W. H. M., and R. B. 

These three famous men belong to the early period of 
the Settlement's history, for although W. H.'s life 
extended into the twentieth century, his active con- 
nection with Singapore ceased in 1880, although his 
sympathies were enshrined in the place and its doings. 
Buckley's Anecdotal History devotes many pages to 
these worthies, and possibly inspired the concluding 
paragraph quoted from Ecclesiasticus, " Let us now 
praise famous men." 

Christopher Rideout Read came to Singapore in 
November 1822 as the partner of Mr. Alexander Laurie 
Johnston, coming on from Bencoolen on the advice of 
Sir Stamford Raffles. The two were on the founder's 
Town Commission nominated under Regulation No. 3 • 
of 1823, which gave them the powers of justices of the 
peace in England. [It is worthy of note that the last 
representative of the firm of A. L. Johnston and Co., Mr. 
W. E. Hooper, holds the record as having been Chairman 
of the Visiting Justices for sixteen years, and still holds 
that honorary and honourable office.] Two of these 
magistrates were to sit with the Resident in Court to 
decide in civil and criminal cases. C. R. Read's wife 
and young daughter joined him in Singapore in 1824. 
One of the most strenuous advocates of the freedom of 
the port, in 1836 he was instrumental in getting up a 
petition to the Indian Board (Buckley, page 303) pro- 



testing against the imposition of tonnage dues, presented 
by Lord Stanley, and was in communication with the 
East India and China Association in London on the 
subject. In 1 863 he wrote to Sir Charles Wood, Secretary 
of State for India, asking that the prohibition of Sir 
Stamford Raffles against the levy of tonnage dues be 
reimposed, but the request was not acceded to, as the 
Government of India was pledged not to take advantage 
of the bill to authorise the levy of port dues in the ports 
of the Straits Settlements. 

William Henry Macleod Read arrived in Singapore in 
1 841, in a sailing vessel, to take his father's place (who 
then retired) in A. L. Johnston and Co. On the ist 
January 1842, then, W. H. Read replaced his father, 
Mr. A. L. Johnston having also left Singapore in the 
previous December. He lived at that time in a house in 
Battery Road, on the river-side, which had been built by 
the senior member of the firm, and was named Tanjong 
Tangkap, because jealous rival merchants said it was 
a trap to catch ship-masters as they arrived and rowed 
up the river. The young man was praised for his excel- 
lent jockeyism in his riding of the winner of the first 
race, the Colonel, in 1843. He also promoted the first 
regatta in the harbour in that year ; next year became 
Treasurer of the first public library ; and the following 
year was the second initiate of the newly formed Masonic 

The sort of man he was may be judged from the follow- 
ing : " In 1845 we went on a deputation to Colonel 
Butterworth abouf a bridge. On leaving, the Colonel 
called me back, and said, * You will never have that 
bridge.' * Sir,' I said, ' I am sorry to differ from you ; 
we will have it,' and so we did." 1 848 was a memorable 
year for him. He was married, and took his bride to 
the Tanghn of Singapore, then Beach Road. Also the 
firm changed its godown to where the Hongkong Bank 
now stands, and there business went on, side by side 
with Robinson's, until 1890. Mr. Read's name was the 
first on the roll of the Volunteer Corps in 1859. Two 


years before this he had taken up the Consulate for 
Holland, at a time when there were no Dutchmen in 
Singapore, but when the strain between the English 
and Dutch over Java and Rhio was great. It speaks 
well for the diplomacy of the young Consul that his con- 
duct so pleased the Dutch, without interfering with his 
patriotism, that he was made a Knight of the Netherlands 
Lion, and was received with great courtesy at The Hague. 
He resigned the Consulate in 1885. W. H. was the first 
Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council at the 
Transfer in 1 867, and had great influence over the native 
rajahs, who often came to him in their troubles, and he 
played a noteworthy part in bringing the Native States 
under British protection. Queen Victoria made him a 
C.M.G. in 1886. The Singapore Free Press of March 
1866 gives a summary of Sir Richard McCausland's 
proposal of his health at a public dinner in the Town 
Hall : 

" I shall not venture nor attempt to enumerate all the 
public services Mr. Read has rendered ; for the omission 
of any one might have been fatal to the task. But 
whether it be free trade or freemasonry ; gas works or 
gambling farm ; a secret society which has just started 
up or a grand jury presentment to put it down ; a screw- 
pile pier [? Johnston's Pier] or railway ; patent slips and 
docks ; the Suez Canal or any other diggings of the 
Delta ; and lastly, but by no means least, the total and 
absolute transfer of the entire Straits Settlements from 
the cold embraces of poor old John Company (now, alas, 
no more !) to the fostering care of a Colpnial Secretary and 
the tender mercies of a Chancellor of the Exchequer " 

" Delta " was the pen-name under which Mr. Read 
contributed numerous letters to the newspapers — always 
strong in argument and precedent, if at later dates 
somewhat acrimonious. 

In 1907 he published Play and Politics : Recollections 
of Malaya by an Old Resident, dedicated to Sir Andrew 
Clarke. Of this grand old Singaporean Mr. Buckley 
writes : 


" Certainly no one here ever worked more unselfishly 
and unsparingly for the good of the place, and how much 
it owed to him there are few now to remember. Public 
men work for various reasons, and often for somewhat 
selfish objects, but Mr. Read gave his time and his 
unsparing energy for the good of the place, even to the 
detriment of his own personal and pecuniary interests, 
solely from a wish to help the place with which he, his 
father, and his family had been so long connected." 

W. H. was born the year before Sir Stamford 
Raffles hoisted the flag here. He left in February 
1887, and lived for many years at Blackheath, always 
keenly interested in Singapore. In 1897, ^^ ^ letter 
to Mr. A. Knight, he writes of the fatigue of his 
" forty years in the wilderness " — although he found 
much pleasant manna there — " deaf as I am, I ^m 
sure that if there is a post-mortem held on me, * Singa- 
pore ' will be found engraven on my heart." Mr. 
Read's portrait, painted by his friend and connection, 
James Sant, R.A., hangs in the Town Hall. He died 
in his ninetieth year, in 1908. 

Robert Barclay Read was a cousin of W. H. Read. 
He arrived in the Colony in May 1 848, at the age of twenty, 
and resided in Singapore for thirty-six years, dying at 
Yokohama, where he had gone in ill-health on the 27th 
October 1884, at the age of fifty-six. 

** He was very popular in the place, a leader in all its 
affairs, like his cousin, W. H. Read, both commercial 
and social. He was Consul for Sweden and Norway. . . . 
The Swedish Government made him a Knight of the Order 
of Wasa and the Dutch Government conferred on him 
the Knighthood of the Netherlands Lion for his valuable 
assistance in discovering and following up the threads 
of a conspiracy at Palembang. . . . Socially Mr. Read 
was for years the life and soul of the place. He had a 
good appreciation of the enjoyments of life, and, especi- 
ally in his younger days, the capacity for inspiring and 
diffusing them. He was an enthusiastic yachtsman, and 
took great delight in his cruises. ... In the amateur 
theatricals of those days he was always considered an in- 


dispensable associate. . . . He was for long President of 
the Singapore Club, and a handsome centre-piece was 
subscribed for by the members to be kept in the Club in 
memory of him." " Of light comedians none excelled Mr. 
Barclay Read and Mr. William Adamson " (Buckley). 

If the name of Singapore was on the heart of W. H. 
Read, surely the great concomitant set forth by Raffles, 
" Singapore a free port," was engraven on the hearts of 
all the Reads. In 1863 (Buckley, page 699) the Supreme 
Government of India directed the Governor to submit to 
the Chamber of Commerce for their opinion a bill to 
authorise the levy of port dues in the ports of the Straits 
Settlements. Mr. Church, the Resident Councillor in 
1856, had recommended a levy or port clearance fee on 
square-rigged vessels, to cover the cost of the harbour- 
master's department, then Rs. 7,020 per annum. The 
Chamber of Commerce (the 29th November) protested 
strongly, Abraham Logan being the Secretary : 

" It is almost superfluous in adducing reasons against 
the levy of these dues here to observe that Singapore 
had been a * free port ' since its first establishment in 
1 819, and that to its complete exemption from duties, 
whether of customs or on vessels using the harbour, is 
mainly to be attributed its remarkable success as a place 
of trade, and the high degree of prosperity to which it has 
now attained. . . . The existence of port dues, however 
trifling in amount, would, in the opinion of this Chamber, 
have the effect of materially diminishing the advantages 
which Singapore now offers as a place of call and refit 
to vessels trading in these seas." 

In forwarding that letter, Governor Blundell stated 
that if the expenses were met from the general revenue 
of the Colony there would be no object in levying port 
dues of any kind — ** on the contrary the measure would 
prove detrimental as well as objectless." A widely 
signed memorial was sent to the Government of India, 
dated the i6th February 1857. 

The matter dropped till 1 860, when a draft bill to levy 


port dues was again forwarded from India. In 1863 the 
attitude of the Chamber was unchanged towards a 
proposal that "has been objected to on several occasions," 
quoting instances such as the resolution of the inhabi- 
tants on the 1 8th December 1856 " that the imposition 
of tonnage dues on shipping is an unwarrantable attack 
upon the freedom of the port ... as being in direct 
violation of the principles upon which this Settlement 
was established." 

From his home at Surbiton Park, March 1863, C. R. 
Read, with him W. C. Raffles Flint and James Banner- 
man Gumming, brought all forces to bear on Sir Charles 
Wood, Secretary of State for India, addressing to him a 
number of letters calling attention, inter alia, to : 

" That when Sir Stamford Raffles formed the Settle- 
ment and hoisted the British flag at Singapore in 18 19, 
he issued a proclamation declaring it a free port, and that 
it was to remain so. 

" That the then Supreme Government of India 
approved of and confirmed the said proclamation. 

" That relying on the fostering care and pledged faith 
of Government, the inhabitants have expended large 
sums in building the town and erecting public buildings, 
bridges, etc., and in improving and bringing the interior 
of the island into cultivation. 

" That some years after the formation of the Settle- 
ment the Supreme Government of India thought fit 
to make it a penal one, and sent their convicts thither 
from all three presidencies until they amount to many 

" That the accumulation of such numbers of murderers, 
of which class they principally consisted, necessitated the 
sending of troops as a protection to the lives and property 
of the settlers,and consequently entailing heavy expenses. 

" That ... it is most unfair, unnecessary, and con- 
stituting a breach of faith with reference to Sir Stamford 
Raffles 's proclamation to attempt to levy duties of any 
kind on the trade of Singapore." 

The correspondence failed to persuade Sir Charles 
Wood to order the reimposition of the prohibition of 


duties of any kind being levied at the port of Singapore, 
and a petition was prepared to Parliament. 

A shorter petition was subsequently prepared, dated 
the 1 3th July 1 863 . It will suffice to show how keen was 
the interest taken by the Reads in this matter to quote 
the following letter : 

" Clyde Villa, Surbiton Park. 

" gih July 1863. 

''My dear Willie, 

" I hear you Singaporeans consider yourselves 
safe because the Government have withdrawn their 
bill of levying duties at your port. You are about as 
safe as the ostrich when he sticks his head in a bush and 
deems himself safe from the hunters. Depend upon it 
there is no safety for Singapore till the prohibition be 
reimposed, and it is only by pressing Sir Charles on that 
point that you will avoid the infliction of duties. I send 
you a copy of a note from Lord Stanley to Seymour. 
Sir Charles has so far committed himself to Lord S. that 
if the Chamber of Commerce adopt the plan I recommend, 
which I send herewith, he cannot without a breach of 
honour and good faith refuse to reimpose the prohibition. 
Let the Chamber adopt their own language in the letter 
to be addressed to him, but let it be to the effect I have 
noted down. I have sent you also a copy of a revised 
petition to the House, which will probably be presented 
next week ; Lord S. thought the first one too long and 
that many members would not give themselves the 
trouble of reading or listening to it attentively, but he 
thinks it could not be better as a guide to whoever may 
speak on the motion ; if I could feel sure that you 
Singaporeans would adopt my advice I should feel 
inchned to rest on my oars till I get the letter I recom- 
mend, as I think Sir Charles has pledged himself too 
deeply to Lord Stanley to retreat when he finds the 
Singaporeans unanimous in repudiating his assertion 
that the proposal to levy tonnage dues came from 
them, and are solid in demanding the reimposition of 
the prohibition. There may be a chance of the Settle- 
ment being taken over by the Colonial Department, but 
even then it will be highly desirable that the prohibition 
be reimposed before that event takes place. The 


Chambers of Commerce of Liverpool, Manchester, and 
Glasgow are acting for us. 

*' Thine affectionately, 

^'C. R. Read." 

This petition quoted again Sir T. S. Raffles : 

^* A Regulation for the Port of Singapore. 

''Regd. No. II of 1823. 

" This Port of Singapore is a Free Port and the Trade 
thereof is open to Ships and Vessels of every Nation 
free of duty equally and ahke to all." 

And the Subsidiary Rules revised on the 29th 
August 1823 : 

"Clause 7. — All vessels, European and native, will 
promptly receive a Port Clearance on application to 
the master attendant's office, and such Port Clearance 
will be without charge or fee. 

''{Signed) T. S. Raffles. 

'' Registered, G. Bonham, Register [szc]." 
The Braddell Family. 

Mr. Thomas Braddell's direct connection with Singa- 
pore commenced in 1862, and covered just a score of 
years to his retirement early in 1883, caused by a 
carriage accident. But he was actually in the Colony 
from 1844, so that for seventy-five years there have 
been Braddells in the Straits, and for fifty-seven years 
in Singapore. Those who have known most of them 
find a deep interest in noting how their various qualities 
and traits of character appear from generation to 

Thomas Braddell, C.M.G., F.R.G.S., F.E.S.L.,was born 
on the 30th January 1823 at Rahingrany, Co. Wicklow, 
the property of his grandfather, the Rev. Henry Braddell, 
M.A., Rector of Carnew, Co. Wicklow. At the age of 
nearly seventeen he went to Demerara with his brother, 
George Wilham, to learn sugar planting. The brother 
died there in 1 840, and in 1 844 Thomas Braddell arrived 
at Penang from Demerara to manage the sugar estate 


called Otaheite, in the Ayer Hitam Valley, which be- 
longed to Messrs. Brown and Co. About this time a 
great impetus had been given to the sugar industry in 
the Straits by the new sugar duties, with the result that 
Brown and Co. opened in 1846 the Batu Kawan Estate, 
in Province Wellesley, of which Mr. Braddell became 
the manager and owner of one quarter ; but the estate 
got inundated in a very high tide, the crop was lost, 
and the venture ended. On the ist January 1849 Mr. 
Braddell joined the service of the East India Company 
as Deputy Superintendent of Police at Penang. After 
holding various offices in Penang, the Province, and 
Malacca, he was promoted to the highest position 
which any uncovenanted servant of the Company 
had ever held, that of Assistant Resident Councillor, 
Penang, a post which had previously been held by a 
covenanted civilian or high military officer. He earned 
this promotion for an act which made him famous at 
the time, and gained him the quickest promotion in 
Government service then known. In 1854 the most 
serious clan riots ever known broke out in Singapore, 
and the feud spread to Malacca, where the Chinese broke 
out, took possession of the country parts, and built 
a stockade in one of the main roads, where they defied 
the police. Mr. Braddell, who was at that time stationed 
in Malacca, without the slightest assistance and without 
calling on the military, went out with all the pohce 
he could get together, attacked the Chinese, killed 
and wounded several of them, took the stockade, and 
summarily ended the riots, for which act he was publicly 
thanked by the Governor. 

He was not satisfied with his prospects in the Company 
as an uncovenanted servant, and commenced to study 
for the Bar, a natural bent, seeing that from 1801 rela- 
tives of his had been at the Irish Bar. On the loth June 
1859 he was called at Gray's Inn ; in 1862 he resigned 
the Company's service and went to Singapore, where 
he commenced practice in partnership with Mr. Abraham 
Logan, as Logan and Braddell . In 1 864 he was appointed 



tl. 424] 


Four Generations of the Braddell Family. 


as Crown Counsel, and when the Transfer took place 
was appointed Attorney-General, an office which he 
held until the end of 1882. In February 1858 Mr. 
Braddell had written a pamphlet entitled " Singapore 
and the Straits Settlements Described," because of 
the agitation then going on about the Transfer. In 
this pamphlet (which proved very useful and most 
opportune) he discussed the best way of governing and 
administering the Straits, and several of his suggestions 
were adopted. He wanted the Government of the Straits 
to be quite distinct from that of India, and that the 
sources from which the officials were derived should 
also be distinct. The pamphlet was a remarkable 
piece of constructive statesmanship, and showed his 
fitness for the high office to which he was appointed 
when his suggestions came to be put into practice. 
He was a most indefatigable worker, and used to sit 
up very late at night at his work. In addition to his 
multifarious duties, he found or made time to become 
a fine Malay scholar, to write innumerable articles 
in Logan's Journal, and to collect material for a history 
of Singapore, which, however, he never actually wrote, 
but which was the foundation of Mr. Buckley's history, 
and indeed prompted Mr. Buckley to undertake that 
most valuable work. Mr. Braddell was certainly one 
of the busiest men of his day, his court practice (for 
the Attorney-General was allowed private practice 
at that time) was very large and lucrative, his duties 
as Attorney-General were very heavy, but he always 
found time for public work. As Mr. Buckley put it 
in his history, " there are some who wonder why Mr. 
Braddell, who was a very busy man, should have spent 
so much time and taken so much trouble about the stories 
of this place ; but he was one of those, Hke Mr. Crawfurd, 
J. T. Thomson, G. W. Earl, John Cameron, and others, 
who were very willing to use their spare time in en- 
deavouring to record the history of the place, the growing 
importance of which they foresaw and appreciated." 
When Sir Andrew Clarke was sent out with orders 


to solve the problem of the Native States, he relied 
very strongly on Mr. Braddell, and appointed him 
Colonial Secretary and Secretary for Affairs relating 
to the Native States in 1875. To Mr. Braddell was 
due much of the success of the conference which con- 
cluded the Treaty of Pangkor in 1 874, which Sir Andrew 
described as " the very best stroke of policy that has 
occurred since the British flag was seen in the 

He was exceedingly popular with all the Malay chiefs 
and principal men, who used to come from all parts to 
consult him. Being a very fine Malay scholar and 
having a most courteous manner, he was able to exert 
great influence with them, the following instance of 
which is given in Sir Andrew Clarke's diary. 

In February 1874 Sir Andrew Clarke, with Admiral 
Sir Charles Shadwell, went up to Selangor, and arrived 
at Langat, the residence of the Sultan of Selangor 
and the pirates' headquarters. The place was strongly 
fortified v/ith big guns, and as Sir Andrew wrote in 
his diary, " the fort itself, both inside and outside, was 
covered with some hundreds of very villainous-looking 
Malays armed to the teeth." Major McNair, with a party, 
was sent ashore to ask the Sultan to come off and see 
His Excellency, but the Sultan refused, and Major 
McNair, after waiting three hours, returned, having 
effected nothing. Sir Andrew's diary then proceeds : 

" Braddell, my Attorney-General, then landed alone, 
smoking a cigar, as if for a stroll, lounged through the 
bazaar and town, passed the sentries, and stepped 
quietly into the Sultan's palace. Braddell speaks 
Malay better than a Malay, and knows their customs. 
It ended in his getting at the Sultan, who at last con- 
sented to come on board." 

Of Mr. Braddell's personal quaUties Mr. Buckley, 
who was his life-long friend, speaks highly : 

" He was a man of great quickness of perception, 
great energy of purpose, and unwearied industry. He 


was, in his comparatively younger days, when he first 
came to Singapore, one of the most popular men of the 
place. He was a capital billiard player, and was to 
be seen in the theatre when any travelling company 
gave performances there, which were poor enough ; 
but he used to say that it passed an evening occasionally, 
however bad the players were, and made a little diversion 
from work. 

" It was always pleasant to the jury to hear him 
conducting the cases at the Assizes, for he was most 
essentially a kind-hearted, straightforward man, with 
a very pleasant, perfectly audible voice, and a fluent 
but very simple speaker. He had a very pleasant 
face and manner, and it was said of him after the 
Transfer that he was the only official who could carry 
off the civil service uniform which came into use then 
among some, but not all, the officials, for he had a 
fine figure, and was over six feet in height." 

Towards the end of 1882 Mr. Braddell had a nasty 
carriage accident, and as a consequence had to retire ; 
he was entertained before his departure at a farewell 
dinner given by the Bar and the Civil Service, at which 
the Chief Justice, Sir Thomas Sidgreaves, took the chair, 
and the Governor was present as a guest. All the 
Members of Council, heads of department, most of 
the Civil Service and all the Bar were present, so the 
papers said. In proposing the toast of the evening 
the Chief Justice said that the news of Mr. Braddell's 
retirement had been received with incredulity : 

'' One could hardly understand that Mr. Braddell, 
who had become a sort of institution here, whom every- 
one of us had known so long, who had become a part 
and parcel of the Colonial regime under which we all 
live, was going to leave us, that we were to lose the 
benefit of his assistance. It seemed as if a Colonial 
calamity was impending. Because I do not think 
there is anyone in the whole Colony who from his long 
residence and unselfish devotion to the public weal 
is so universally respected and whose absence will 
be more regretted." 


He died in London on the 1 9th September 1 89 1 , at the 
age of sixty-nine. The Supreme Court assembled in 
Singapore to do honour to his memory, and speeches 
were made by the Attorney-General, Mr. Jonas Daniel 
Vaughan, his old friend and colleague, and by the 
Chief Justice Sir Edward L. O'Malley. The Singapore 
Free Press, in an obituary notice, remarked that there 
were very few institutions in this place which did 
not in some way, to those who were acquainted with 
their history, recall him, and that that was especially 
the case among the Masonic fraternity. It went 
on to refer to the fine work done by many of the old 
officials of the East India Company, and concluded : 
" Foremost amongst them stands the name of Mr. 
Braddell, who for thorough honesty of purpose and 
uprightness of character in somewhat trying official 
duties has left an honoured name in the history of 
the earlier days of Singapore." Mr. Braddell had filled 
all the offices connected with Freemasonry in his day, 
save that of District Grand Master, which was held 
by his friend, the late Mr. W. H. Read, whose deputy 
he was. 

In 1852 he married Miss Anne Lee, the daughter 
of William Lee, of Longeaton, Notts., in his day a well- 
known amateur cricketer who played for Nottingham- 
shire. By her he had two sons and two daughters ; one 
of the latter married Sir Edward Marsh Merewether, 
K.C.V.O., K.C.M.G., then a cadet in the Straits Civil 
Service, and at present Governor of the Leeward Isles. 
They were on the Appam when she was captured 
by the Moewe, the German raider. She played a 
large part in theatricals and music while she was in 

Of his sons the elder. Sir Thomas de Multon Lee 
Braddell, came out in 1879, having been married a 
month or two before he sailed. He joined his father 
in practice. J. P. Joaquim and Sir John Bromhead 
Matthews were also partners of his, the former in the 
'Eighties and the latter in the 'Nineties. Sir Thomas, 


while he was at the Bar, did not take any part in 
pubHc affairs save when he acted as Attorney-General 
in 1898, and for a year or two prior to that as a 
Municipal Commissioner. In 1907 he was appointed a 
Puisne Judge, and in 191 1 he became Attorney-General, 
holding that appointment until 191 3, when he went to 
the Federated Malay States as Chief Judicial Com- 
missioner. In the New Year's honours of 19 14 he 
received a knighthood, and in 191 7 he retired, and is 
now living in England. Sir Thomas, like his father, 
was an enthusiastic Freemason, and in his time was 
Master of Lodge St. George and first Master of Read 
Lodge, Kuala Lumpur, holding the two offices by special 
dispensation in the same year; he was also District 
Grand Senior Warden. 

Sir Thomas was a very good actor in his younger days, 
and was particularly successful as General Baltic in 
Turned up, by Mark Melford, and as Digby Grant in 
Two Roses, by James Albery. These were played at 
the old Town Hall in 1887 with great success. He also 
stage-managed lolanthe, which started an era of musical 
plays in October 1889, and the Crimson Scarf, a comic 
opera by H. B. Farnie and J. E. Legouix, in 1888 ; nor 
was he above giving an evening a week to coach the 
elder pupils of Raffles Girls' School in their Shakespeare. 
Although not very robust, he played a fair game at tennis, 
a good game of billiards, and was a staunch supporter 
of the Swimming Club, which has a fine portrait of their 
former President in the club-house. All who knew him 
had the highest esteem for his fine character and sterling 
work. In Council and Court he was courteous in demean- 
our and quiet in speech, yet withal firm and decisive. 
Privately, no one ever appealed to him in vain for advice 
or help, which he gave with great sincerity and kindness, 
in his quiet way, well meriting the verdict of one 
troubled lady whom he aided in a troublesome piece of 
public work that " he was such a helpful man." 

Sir Thomas de Multon Lee Braddell was born in 
Province Wellesley in 1856, and after leaving Oxford was 


called to the Bar at the Inner Temple on the 25th June 
1879. On the 1 6th September 1879 he married Violet 
Ida Nassau, daughter of John Roberts Kirby by his 
wife Elizabeth, who was the daughter of William 
Frederick Nassau, of St. Osyth's Priory, Essex. He 
was admitted to the local Bar on the 5th January 1880. 

Sir Thomas's eldest son, Roland St. John Braddell, is 
now practising in Singapore, carrying on the traditions 
of the family in the firm of Braddell Brothers, and by his 
interest in the stage and public affairs. He was born in 
Singapore on the 20th December 1 880, took his law degree 
at Oxford in 1904, was called to the Bar at the Middle 
Temple in the following July, and came out to Singapore 
in that year and was admitted here on the 9th April 
1906. On the 1 2th December 1906 he married Dulcie 
Sylvia, only daughter of the late Dr. Lyttelton Forbes 
Winslow, D.C.L., LL.D., M.D., etc., the celebrated 
mental specialist, himself the son of a more celebrated 
mental specialist, whose evidence in Macnaghten's case 
caused a revolution in criminal law with regard to lunacy. 
Mr. and Mrs. Roland Braddell have one son, Thomas 
Lyndhurst Braddell, born in Singapore in 1908 — the 
fourth generation. 

The younger son of Thomas Braddell, Robert 
Wallace, also came out to the Straits after his father's 
retirement and practised at the Singapore Bar in partner- 
ship with his brother. Sir Thomas, until December 1906, 
when he retired. He was the finest criminal lawyer and 
cross-examiner who has practised at the local Bar. He 
was a very fine billiard and lawn-tennis player, gaining 
the championship many times at both games. In no 
less than three separate tournaments R. W. Braddell 
secured the championship, the singles handicap, the 
doubles handicap, and the Profession Pairs, i.e. every 
event. He and the Hon. F. M. Elliot carried off the Pro- 
fession Pairs on many occasions. Also " Bob " was an 
admirable caricaturist, much of his work being shown 
in illustrations herein, and under the nom de plume of 
*' K.Y.D." had cartoons of Sir Cecil Smith, the Maharaja 


of Johore, and others published in the Vanity Fair 
series. Straits Produce contains much of his hterary and 
artistic work. He shared the family taste for theatricals, 
and appeared in comic parts on many occasions, and could 
sing a good comic song. Robert Wallace Glen Lee 
Braddell was born in 1859, won his tennis half-blue at 
Oxford, and was amateur lawn tennis champion of the 
North of England. He married Minnie, daughter of the 
Rev. Thomas Smith, vicar of Brailes, near Banbury. 

His son, Robert Lyttleton Lee Braddell, was born in 
1888 in Malacca. At Oxford he was captain of the 
Association football team, and played for England. He 
was also in the 'Varsity cricket team, and has given some 
fine expositions of these games in Singapore. Robert 
Lyttleton was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple 
on the 28th June 191 1, and married Ethel, daughter of 
Robert Jewison, of Beverley, Yorkshire. He came out 
to Singapore, and in 191 2 was admitted to the local 
Bar. During the War he went home, joined up, and 
obtained a commission in the R.A., and was in France. 

The Maxwells 

Sir Peter Benson Maxwell was born on the 31st 
January 1816. He was the fourth son of Mr. Peter 
Benson Maxwell, owner of Birdstown, Londonderry, and 
one of eight brothers. His mother was, before her 
marriage, Hester Emily O'Hara, of a well-known family 
in County Galway. His parents lived a good deal 
abroad, and he was educated in France, and at Trinity 
College, Dubhn. He chose the law as his profession, 
was called to Inner Temple, and practised as a barrister 
in London, sharing chambers with two men who also 
became eminent judges. Baron Pollock and Sir George 
Honyman. He was for a time on the staff of the Morning 
Chronicle when Douglas Cook was editor, and con- 
tributed to the Saturday Review. He also did some 
reporting in the House of Commons, and his name still 
survives in the law reports of Maxwell, Pollock and 
Lowndes. In 1842 he married a cousin, Frances 


Dorothea Synge, only daughter of Mr. Synge, of Glanmore 
Castle, County Wicklow, and had a family of eight 
children — four sons and four daughters. 

During the Crimean War he was sent as one of the 
members of a Commission to the Crimea to enquire into 
the state of the hospitals there, and on his return wrote 
the celebrated pamphlet Whom shall we hang? Its 
moral was that, instead of seeking a victim on whom the 
blame for inefficiency and lack of preparation should 
be bestowed, the nation had itself to blame for the 
niggardly provision of money in the army estimates. 

He went to Penang as Recorder in 1856, being sworn 
in on the 20th March, and Punch published the lines 
which begin with ** So whom shall we hang has gone to 
Penang." He succeeded Sir Richard McCausland as 
Recorder of Singapore in 1 866. On the transfer of the 
Straits Settlements in 1867 the title of the post was 
changed to that of Chief Justice, and, as such, he swore 
in Sir Harry Ord, the first Governor. He retired in 
1 871. He was a " strong " judge, and insisted upon 
getting to the bottom of every case. In order that he 
might not be at the mercy of interpreters, he not only 
learnt Malay, but became a Malay scholar ; and he 
created a sensation when he announced in Court that 
he would personally walk round the boundaries of some 
disputed property. He afterwards made this a practice, 
and in this way learnt much of native life and custom. 
He was a great supporter of native rights by long 
possession of land, and saved many a " squatter " from 
eviction by a landlord with a newly acquired title-deed. 
His reputation amongst the older generation of Malays 
and Chinese both in Penang and Singapore still survives, 
and is based upon his humanity and impartiality. His 
judgments were marked by the extent of his knowledge 
of the law and his breadth of view. Sir Benson's career 
as a judge will, however, be found dealt with fully in 
the article on " Law and the Lawyers." 

In 1883, at the request of the British Government 
and of the Khedive, he proceeded to Egypt to assist 



II. 432] 


Four Generations of the Maxwell Family. 


Lord Dufferin by undertaking the reforms of the Law 
Courts. The French legal system was in force, and he 
had a delicate and difficult task, which he attacked with 
energy and ability, but in which he encountered con- 
siderable opposition. His duties included periodical 
visits of inspection to the gaols, where he found the 
unfortunate prisoners cruelly ill-treated, being flogged 
with the kurbash by their gaolers on any pretext. Sir 
Benson determined to put an end to this state of things, 
and his efforts on behalf of the oppressed, and against 
corruption and cruelty generally, are still gratefully 
remembered in Egypt. The official opposition to his 
measures increased ; and he was not adequately sup- 
ported by Mr. Gladstone's Government, which was then 
wholly absorbed in debating the Khartoum Relief 
Expedition. In August 1885, therefore, finding himself 
persistently thwarted, he resigned his appointment. 
Great efforts were made by both the British and Egyptian 
Governments to persuade him to withdraw his resigna- 
tion, but in vain. A question of principle was involved, 
and no thought of personal advancement had any 
weight with him. 

Some time after. Lord Dufferin, in speaking of the 
difficulties of those early reforms in Egypt, was describ- 
ing the qualities of self-abnegation, patience, and high 
idealism required, when his hearer said : " Why, Lord 
Dufferin, you wanted angels, not men ! " " Well," he 
said, " I found one in Maxwell." 

In his later years Sir Benson made his home in London, 
but travelled a good deal, spending one or two winters 
in Rome, and frequently visiting Switzerland and Ger- 
many. He was deeply interested in archaeology and 
in the study of languages, and was a good linguist, 
speaking French like a Frenchman, and being well 
acquainted with German and Italian. Music was his 
special hobby, the violoncello, which he played with 
considerable skill, being his favourite instrument. 

On the 26th July 1 892 Sir Benson and Lady Maxwell 
celebrated their golden wedding ; but some time before 


this took place his health had begun to fail from repeated 
attacks of asthma and bronchitis, and the anniversary 
found him quite an invalid. A sojourn in the south of 
France revived him for a time, but a chill contracted at 
Grasse early in January led to pneumonia, and on the 
14th January 1893 the end came at daybreak. He was 
laid to rest in the French cemetery at Grasse, in the 
beautiful country he loved so well, and on his grave are 
the words, which all who knew him feel appropriate : 


Peter Benson Maxwell, eldest son of Sir P. B. Maxwell, 
was educated at Wimbledon School, and came out to 
Penang in 1 864, for two years being clerk to his father. 
In 1 866 he was appointed Magistrate, Province Wellesley, 
and held the appointment until 1868, when he was 
given a similar appointment in Berbice, British Guiana. 
He died at Georgetown, British Guiana, in 1878, leaving 
three sons. 

William Edward Maxwell was Sir Peter's second son. 
He was educated at Repton School, and in January 1865 
entered the public service as clerk to his father, who was 
then Recorder of Penang. In 1869 he was appointed 
Police Magistrate and Commissioner of the Court of 
Requests in Penang, and in 1870 was transferred in the 
same capacities to Malacca. For a short time in 1870 
he acted as Lieutenant-Governor of Malacca. Four 
years later he was sent to Province Wellesley as Assistant 
Government Agent, and in 1875 he effected the land 
settlement of the Trans-Krian district. When an 
expedition was sent to Perak after Mr. J. W, W. Birch's 
murder, he was Deputy Commissioner with the Larut 
Field Force (November 1875), and was mentioned in 
despatches. He acted as Assistant Resident of Perak 
in 1876. Then, in 1877, he acted successively as 
Assistant Colonial Secretary, Singapore, as Resident of 
Perak, and as Senior Magistrate, Singapore. He was 
appointed Assistant Resident of Perak in 1878, in succes- 


sion to Captain Speedy, who afterwards became famous 
in Abyssinia. He acted as British Resident, Perak, in 
1 88 1 and the early part of 1882. 

Perhaps the most important of his many appointments 
in Malaya was the one that followed. In 1882 — he had 
been called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in 1881 — he was 
made Commissioner of Lands Titles, Straits Settle- 
ments, an appointment which was especially created for 
him in order that, with his special qualifications and 
knowledge of land matters, he might put the land system 
of the Colony upon a satisfactory basis. The appoint- 
ment gave him a seat in the Executive and Legislative 
Councils. It is to him that the Colony owes the Crown 
Lands Ordinance 1883, the Boundaries Ordinance 1884, 
the Crown Lands Ordinance 1886, the Conveyancing 
and Law of Property 1 886, the Malacca Lands Ordinance 
1886, and the Registration of Deeds Ordinance 1886. 
He was sent on a special visit to the Australian Colonies 
in 1883, in order that he might see the manner in which 
the " Torrens " system of land transfer by registration 
of title operated in the various land offices. His report 
upon the subject was a most valuable document, but his 
attempt to introduce the system into the Colony was 
opposed strenuously in some quarters, and eventually 

In 1884 he was employed by the Foreign Office 
on a mission to the west coast of Acheen, where the 
survivors of the shipwrecked crew of the Nisero were 
being held in captivity by the Achinese. After difficult 
and protracted negotiations he secured their release ; 
for his services he received the thanks of His Majesty's 
Government, an award of ^^500, and the C.M.G. He 
acted as Resident Councillor of Penang from May 1887 
to May 1889. In June 1889 he was appointed British 
Resident, Selangor. At the earhest opportunity he 
put into force the system upon which he had laboured 
for years in the Colony, passed the Land Enactment 
and the Registration of Titles Enactment (both of 
which he drafted himself), and by his untiring energy 


and determination converted in a very short time 
the chaos of the land offices into a simple and effectual 
system of land tenure and land conveyancing. The 
system was so successful that it was soon adopted 
in Perak, Negri Sembilan, and Pahang. 

Later, when the States were federated, federal en- 
actments were passed. The same system has since 
been adopted, with modification, in the Unfederated 

Upon the death of Sir Frederick Dickson, K.C.M.G., 
Sir William was appointed in March 1 892 to succeed as 
Colonial Secretary, S.S. He administered the Govern- 
ment of the Colony in 1893. 

In 1 894 he was promoted to be Governor of the Gold 
Coast. There was little or no land system beyond 
that of customary native tenure, and the local chiefs 
claimed the right to grant to European concession- 
hunters wide areas of land both for agriculture and 
mining. He investigated the subject with characteristic 
energy, acumen, and thoroughness, and submitted to 
the Colonial Office his recommendations for a land 
system which would preserve the rights both of the 
peasantry and of the Colonial Government. The 
rebellion of King Prempah of Ashanti absorbed the 
greater part of his attention in 1895, ^nd he proceeded 
to Ashanti with the expeditionary force under command 
of Sir Francis Scott, K.C.M.G. The account of 
Prempah's defeat and surrender, and his public obeisance 
to the Governor, as representative of Her Majesty 
the Queen, is well known. The effect of the action then 
taken was immediate and lasting, and its wisdom is 
now fully recognised. Ashanti thereupon became a 
British protectorate. He was given the K.C.M.G. 
in 1896. Later he had trouble with Samuri, a leader 
of a large marauding force in the hinterland of Ashanti, 
and proceeded thither to deal with him in July 1897. 
At Kumassi he had a severe attack of blackwater 
fever, and was insistently urged by his medical advisers 
to return to the coast. Feeling, however, that there 


remained still to be done work which he alone would 
do, he refused to leave. He completed the task, and 
was carried down to Accra by hammock-bearers, in 
nearly a dying condition. At the first opportunity 
he was put on a homeward-bound steamer. He died 
on the voyage, and was buried at sea, off the Canary 
Islands, on the 14th December 1897. 

The work by which he is best remembered is his 
Manual of the Malay Language (Trubner 1882), which 
is used by all students of Malaya. As a mere manual 
it is perhaps somewhat overweighted by the brilliant 
essay (which is not quite appropriately styled an 
" Introduction ") upon the Sanskrit Element in Malay ; 
but it is an essay which no student can afford to miss. 
In him the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 
had the keenest supporter and best contributor that 
it has ever had. He conducted a " Notes and Queries " 
supplement for some time, and contributed a great 
number of articles. Many of these articles are classics. 
In some of them he saved from oblivion some legendary 
Malay stories, which professional story-tellers knew 
by rote and repeated, for an evening's entertainment, 
to the villagers. 

He married, in 1870, Lilias Aberigh-Mackay, daughter 
of the Colonial Chaplain of Penang, and sister of " Ali 
Baba," whose Twenty -one Days in India is one of the 
classics of India. Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Maxwell 
was one of the most charming hostesses that Singapore 
has ever had. They had six sons, of whom a brief 
account is given below. 

Sir William was a man of medium height, with a 
fair complexion and a light yellow moustache. He 
had eyes of a striking light blue, whose natural glitter 
was brightened by an eyeglass. In the course of con- 
versation he would jerk this eyeglass into its position, 
and then abruptly concentrate a glare that was often 
disconcerting, and at times terrifying. Partly because 
of the colour of his eyes, and partly because of his restless 
energy, the Perak Malays, who have a nickname for 


almost everyone, called him when he first went there 
" Anak Rimau," the " tiger-cub." He was a good 
snipe shot, and a good and very keen rider. The 
Selangor Gymkhana Club flourished in his time, and 
at all times and everywhere he strongly supported 
anything connected with amateur riding. Tent-pegging 
was his strong point ; and one of the best cartoons 
that ever appeared in Straits Produce was one that came 
out at a time when he was Colonial Secretary, and 
it was generally expected that he would get the K.C.M.G. 
The cartoon was an adaptation of Lady Butler's well- 
known picture *' Missed," in which an Indian cavalryman 
is pulling up his charger, after having failed to carry 
the peg. Mr. James Miller, the cartoonist, substituted 
a " K " for the peg, and hit off Sir William's expression 
and eyeglass with great skill and felicity. Sir William's 
fault was his tendency to be imperious. He always 
knew exactly what he wanted and exactly how he wanted 
to get there, and he was seldom prepared to concede 
that there was any other way. The result was that 
any committee on which he served tended either to 
become a " one-man " concern, or else to end in a dead- 

He was a great administrator, with a complete 
grasp of his subject, and a sympathetic control over 
his subordinates. Men recognised him as keen and 
capable, and put out their best efforts to carry through 
any work for him. His ambition was to return to 
Singapore as Governor, and his untimely death was to 
this Colony an incalculable loss. 

Robert Walter Maxwell, third son of Sir P. B. Maxwell, 
was educated at Repton School, and came to Singapore 
in 1867. As his two brothers had been, he was at first 
clerk to his father. He then acted as Private Secretary 
to the Lieutenant-Governor of Penang. In 1871 he 
joined the Straits Settlements Police Force as an 
Assistant Superintendent. He became a Superintendent 
of Police in 1873, Superintendent of Police, Penang, in 
1880, and finally Inspector-General of Police. A smart 


and fearless officer, he was very popular with all ranks 
of the force, and devoted to its service. He took keen 
personal interest in the young officers of the force, was 
a wise friend to them all, and gave them a helping 
hand when one was needed. When the Chinese riot 
broke out in Singapore, in connection with the muni- 
cipal by-law relating to the five-foot ways, he was very 
badly injured by a blow on the head. From this injury 
he never completely recovered. He retired on pension 
in 1893. For some years he led a semi-invalid life in 
London, and had just taken and settled into a small 
country house at Rockbourne, in Wiltshire, when he 
died suddenly in July 1897. He was unmarried. 

Of all the family he was the most popular. In all 
classes of the community he was a friend to all, and 
an enemy to none. With charm of manner, and a 
delightful disposition, his thought was always of others 
and never of himself ; despite his ill-health in his late 
years, he was always cheerful and ready to amuse and 
be amused. 

Frank R. Ord Maxwell was the youngest of Sir 
Benson's sons. Born in 1849, he was also educated 
at Repton School, and joined the Sarawak Civil Service 
in 1872. In 1876 he was promoted to be Resident 
of the Batang Lupas and Saribas districts. He com- 
manded a punitive expedition against Lang Eudang 
in the Sekrang in 1879. From 1881 until his retirement 
on pension in 1895 he was Resident of the First Division 
(Sarawak Proper), and was the right-hand man of the 
Rajah of Sarawak. He did much to increase the 
prestige of the Rajah's rule and extend his rulership 
in the direction of the then decaying kingdom of Brunei. 
The treaty whereby the Trusan district was ceded by 
Brunei to Sarawak was negotiated and signed by him. 
After his retirement on pension, he was appointed in 
1 896 British Consul and Resident of Labuan. He died, 
whilst on leave, at Yokohama on the 17th August 1897. 
The Dyaks, amongst whom the greater part of his 
life was spent, had for him respect and affection second 
II — 29 


only to that which they had for their Rajah. He 
thoroughly gauged their strength and their weakness, 
and could always look at any question from their 
point of view. 


William George Maxwell, eldest son of Sir W. E. 
Maxwell, was born in 1871, educated at Clifton Col- 
lege, and appointed a junior officer, Perak, 1891, 
but was transferred to the Straits Settlements Civil 
Service in 1904. He held a number of appointments 
in the Federated Malay States as Magistrate, District 
Officer, etc., and was appointed Solicitor-General, S.S., 
1906, and Acting Attorney-General, S.S., 1908. Upon 
the transfer in 1909 of suzerainty of Kedah from Siam 
to Great Britain under the treaty of that year, Mr. 
Maxwell was selected for the appointment of British 
Adviser, Kedah. He acted as Colonial Secretary, S.S., 
in 1914, 1916, 1918, and 1919; as Secretary to the 
High Commissioner, Malay States, in 191 5 and 191 7 ; 
and as British Resident, Perak, in 1916. He was 
appointed General Adviser, Johore, in 191 8, and received 
C.M.G. in 1915. He holds the Royal Humane Society's 
medal, and is a barrister-at-law of the Inner Temple. 
The multifarious positions found for Mr. Maxwell 
are shown by the following list of " commissions." 
He was President of the Singapore Housing Commission 
191 8; of the Rubber Industry Protection Committee 
191 8; of the Singapore Centenary Committee (191 8) ; 
of the Raffles College Subscription Committee (19 19) J 
Vice-Chairman of the Food Control and Food Production 
Committees, S.S. and F.M.S., and of the Shipping Control 
Committee, S.S. ; Passage Controller. In this year 
he is President of the Straits Branch Royal Asiatic 
Society, and Chairman of the Raffles Museum and 
Library Committee. A ready writer, the publications 
to his credit include : The Land Laws of Perak (Past 
and Present) ; The Laws of Perak ; a Chronological 
Table of Perak Laws ; and a Chronological Table of the 


Laws of the Straits Settlements. The last has reached 
its eleventh edition. He is the author of that charming 
book In Malay Forests (Blackwood), and has contri- 
buted numerous articles to the Journal of the Straits 
Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Mr. Maxwell 
married Evelyn, daughter of W. F. Stevenson, Esq., 
and has two sons, mentioned later. 

Charleton Neville Maxwell, second son of Sir W. E. 
Maxwell, was born in 1872, and educated at Cheltenham 
College and Bedford Grammar School. He first entered 
the Sarawak Civil Service in 1891, but was appointed 
junior officer, Selangor, in 1894. He had a number of 
appointments in the Federated Malay States as Magis- 
trate, District Officer, etc. He served in the South 
African War (Queen's medal with five clasps) ; in 1914, 
was appointed British Agent, Trengganu, and later was 
seconded for service with the Trengganu Government. 

Eric Frank O'Hara Maxwell, third son, was born 
in 1873, and educated at Cheltenham College and 
Bedford Grammar School. He came to Singapore 
in 1894, and was articled to Messrs. Drew and Napier. 
Later he practised as an advocate and solicitor in Ipoh, 
and founded the legal firm of Maxwell and Kenion. He 
retired in 1909. He married Ethel, daughter of Colonel 
Hale, and has one son. 

Dennis Wellesley Maxwell (Lieutenant-Colonel), fourth 
son, was born in 1875, and followed his two brothers at 
Cheltenham College and Bedford Grammar School. 
He then went to Sandhurst, and in 1894 received a 
commission in the 74th Highland Light Infantry. 
Transferred to the Indian Army, 4th Gurkhas, he served 
in the Tirah campaign and the Boxer rebellion. He was 
wounded in Mesopotamia, 191 7, and is at the time of 
writing in command of the 4th Gurkhas. He married 
Constance, daughter of Sir Stair Agnew, and has a 
daughter and a son. 

Gerald Verner Maxwell, fifth son, was born in 1877, 
and was also educated at Cheltenham College, Bedford 
Grammar School, and then Peterhouse, Cambridge 


(Scholar). He entered the Fiji Civil Service in 1898, 
and has held a number of appointments in Fiji. In 
191 2 he was promoted to be Chairman of the Native 
Lands Commission. He married Jean, daughter of 
Dr. Blyth, and has two sons and two daughters. 

Peter Benson Maxwell (Captain), sixth son, was born 
in 1 88 1, educated at Bedford Grammar School, and also 
entered Sandhurst, gaining the sword of honour on 
leaving. He received his commission in 1899, and was 
transferred to the Indian Army, 35th Sikhs. He then 
passed the Staff College examinations, in the Indian 
Army, and later in the British Army, and was transferred 
back to the British Army (East Yorkshire Regiment), 
proceeded with his regiment to France at the outbreak 
of war, and was killed on the Aisne, in September 191 4. 
Captain Maxwell married Eileen, daughter of General 
Sir Gordon Hamilton, and left one daughter. 


Vernon Stevenson Maxwell, elder son of W. G. 
Maxwell, was born at Taiping, F.M.S., in 1904, and is 
at Winchester College. 

Clive Benson Maxwell, younger son of W. G. Maxwell, 
was born at Singapore in 1908. He is at Oxford Pre- 
paratory School. 

The Cranes 

Thomas Owen Crane came to Singapore in 1824 or 
1825, and started in business as Thomas O. Crane in the 
latter year. He married one of the many daughters of 
Dr. d'Almeida in 1826, and had fourteen children. 
When Buckley's history was pubhshed, only one of them, 
the eldest daughter, was dead. Of the family, Wilham 
Crane went to Japan in 1861, and has adopted that 
country as his own. Thomas Crane married and went 
home. Charles E. Crane married a Miss Stapleton, and 
carried on business as an auctioneer for many years in 
Singapore. Thomas and Charles are noted as singing 
the " Larboard Watch" in 1865 Mary Ann Esther 


Crane married Thomas Dunman in 1 847. Sarah was the 
wife of Mr. H. W. Wood, one of the founders of Gilfillan, 
Wood and Co. Emily Crane married Mr. W. W. Shaw, 
of Boustead's. Adelaide is at home, unmarried. Arthur 
G. Crane married Miss Farrow, and has several times 
come back to Singapore to stay for a time, always 
rejoining the Cathedral choir. Frank Crane married 
and went to Natal. Two daughters, Delphina and Eva, 
were unmarried. Joseph Crane was a captain in the 
Mercantile Marine. Henry Crane was the last of the 
sons to reside permanently in Singapore. 

Thomas O. Crane retired from business in 1864 J he 
had lived for many years at his large house at Gaylang. 
After thirty-five years in Singapore, he made a short 
visit to London, and retired in 1 866, dying the following 
year. His name constantly appears in the records as 
a J. P., a member of the Raffles School Committee, a 
warden of the first Freemasons' Lodge, and a persistent 
and enterprising planter. He tried cotton, and in 1836 
had seventeen acres of cotton at Tanjong Katong, but 
the want of a regular dry season made cotton growing a 
failure. He then planted coconuts on the Gelang 
coconut estate, and his experiences are reported in 
Logan's Journal (page 103). 

William Crane, his brother, came up from Australia 
to join him in business about 1842, and returned to 
England in 1857. 

Some of Thomas's grandchildren have lived and 
worked in Singapore, among them Charles S. Crane, 
the Secretary of the Straits Trading Co. 

The Dunmans 
Thomas Dunman was born in the year of Waterloo, 
and was certainly here in 1842, for his boat Bellows to 
Mend took part in the New Year's Day regatta. He 
entered the police force in September 1 843 from Martin, 
Dyce and Co., and as he was not of the covenanted ser- 
vice, the appointment was criticised. But he made good. 
Thomson, in his book Sequel to Life in the Far East, in 


speaking of the uncovenanted officers of the East India 
Company's service, writes : " It was Congalton who swept 
the Malay waters of pirates ; it was Dunman who first 
gave security to households in Singapore by raising and 
training an efficient pohce force ; and it was Coleman 
who laid out the city of Singapore in the expansive and 
well-arranged plan admired by strangers." Buckley 
writes warmly of T. Dunman's activity and intimate 
acquaintance with the manners and habits of the natives, 
and says : " His time was not spent in sitting in an office 
under a punkah, answering frivolous enquiries and 
minutes about petty police details, as in the present day 
(1900), but in going about town and country." He sat 
as a police magistrate in 1844 and onwards. In 1851 
he was made Superintendent of Police for Singapore, 
and in 1856 Commissioner of Police, retiring in 1871, 
but remaining in the place for four years, and dying 
at Bournemouth in 1887, aged 73. He was evi- 
dently one of the strenuous kind of early Singaporean 
which Buckley so much admired, entering into all sides 
of life in the island, including a large coconut plantation 
of 400 acres at Tanjong Katong. The Grove Estate was 
west of the old Tanjong Katong road to the sea. At 
one time the founder of the family lived at the corner 
of Malacca Street ; most of his children were born at one 
of the few bungalows on the sea-front. Beach Road, 
where Clyde Terrace Market is now. 

Thomas Dunman married Mary Ann Esther, the 
second daughter of Thomas O. Crane, on the 5th January 
1 847, who was then at the early age of sixteen, and the 
characteristic features of the d'Almeidas were continued. 
She had nine children, all alive on Centenary Day, when 
she was eighty-eight years old, and 1 20 children, grand- 
children and great-grandchildren, some of the latter 
over twenty-one years of age, and {vide Buckley) some 
of the most popular young people of Singapore ; she is 
still living. 

Robert Dunman, the eldest son, was twice married. 
By his first wife there were three children, Muriel, Leslie, 



and another son, a Tank officer, killed in the War. By 
the second wife — ^Tom, in the R.E., is now dead ; Amy ; 
and Norah, who married Colonel Sergeant, at one time 
connected with the Volunteers in Singapore, and killed 
in the War. In 1871 he signed per pro. for Shaw, 
Scholefield and Co., which had been established in i860. 
In that year also he won the all-comers' all-rifles 
match of the S.V.C. (being then sergeant), with a score 
of thirty-three, Sergeant-Instructor Phillips making 
twenty-five. ** The scoring was not so good as usual, 
owing to the deterioration of the powder caused by the 

The other children of Thomas Dunman were Ellen, 
unmarried ; Elizabeth, who married Mr. Woodroffe, of 
the I.C.S., and one of whose sons. Colonel Woodroffe, 
R.E., was through the War ; Louiza, married the A.D.C. 
to Governor Ord, and had six children, of whom E. N. T. 
Cummins and H. C. Cummins are out here, planters, 
their brother. Colonel Cummins, being taken prisoner 
at Kut ; Henry, a musical professor in America ; William, 
now in Singapore, and managing the Grove Estate ; 
Amy, married C. T. Lacey, three sons, one killed in the 
War and another a colonel in the K.R.R., M.C. ; May 
Ann, unmarried ; and Emilie, who has a son and 
a daughter. 

How much does Singapore's life not owe to such 
families as the Cranes and the Dunmans ? They organise 
concerts and provide much of the music ; they produce 
plays and make life worth living. The Dunman boys 
played good cricket, and Robert was a good shot and 
keen volunteer. William also played good cricket, and 
gave an excellent Jack Point on the stage. 

Of Tom Dunman his contemporaries in the 'Sixties 
speak with respect and love for his high qualities. They 
also tell stories showing that he was more than a bit of 
a wag, such as starting his new diary with " January ist, 
left off Beer " — " January 2nd, took to it again." Again 
they speak of the famous dinner in his house at Kampong 
Glam, for which he forgot to make arrangements, and on 


the morning sent his head boy round to the houses of 
the guests and collected their own dinners, which they 
greatly enjoyed, especially one man his own mutton. 
Apparently the guests were as equally forgetful of the 
dinner as was Tom. As the chronicler puts it : 

" To people who have not been in the East this may 
seem a strange story, but the head boys really do all the 
housekeeping, and are in the habit of helping one another; 
the fact of the guests taking their own servants to wait 
upon them at table tends to encourage co-operation 
among the boys. . . . Eastern housekeeping runs on 
entirely different lines to home, and is calculated to suit 
the young lady of the present day down to the ground." 

The d'Almeidas 

Dr. Jose d'Alrneida was a landowner in Singapore 
in 1 824. He had been a surgeon on a passing Portuguese 
man-of-war, and being struck with the prospects and 
advantages of the place, decided to settle here, but 
before doing so made several voyages, leaving money 
here for Mr. F. J. Bernard to purchase land, one of the 
plots being on Beach Road. Dr. d'Almeida came here 
to live in 1825, and had a shop in the Square. Taking 
advantage of commercial opportunities, the firm of Jose 
d'Almeida was established, and carried on by his sons 
afterwards, Joaquim and Jose, and when the doctor 
died in 1 850, it was one of the largest and most important 
in the place. The doctor's house at Beach Road was 
the rendezvous of all the musical talent of Singapore, 
and his kindness to newcomers was proverbial. He and 
Dr.Montgomerie (whohad a nutmegplantation, including 
Everton and Duxton, from Neil Road down to where 
the Rikisha Station now stands) were associated in the 
exploitation (Buckley says discovery) of gutta-percha. 
Dr. d'Almeida was an indefatigable agriculturist — sugar, 
coffee, coconuts, cotton — and introduced new varieties 
of fruit, such as the Pisang d'Almeida; he also tried 
cochineal, vanilla, cloves, and brought in teal and quail 
from India and China. On his visit to Europe in 1842, 


n. 446] 



he was knighted by the Queen of Portugal, and was 
appointed Consul-General in the Straits, and received 
several other titles. Sir Jose's family was a large one — 
nineteen or twenty children — and at his funeral at the 
Roman Cathohc Cemetery in Fort Canning Road (1850) 
nearly every European in the community attended. 
Among the children, the eldest married Mr. T. O. Crane. 
Jose d'Almeida's story is told in Buckley. Eva married 
Crombie Glass, a partner of Guthrie and Co. in the 
Singapore Middle Ages (1870). Another daughter, Eva, 
married A. P. Talbot, of the Civil Service, who was 
Clerk of Council for many years, and acted on several 
occasions as Colonial Secretary. 

The Dunmans and d'Almeidas went to Dusseldorf 
together — twenty of them in all, — took a large house in 
Bahn Strasse from 1864-7, ^^ the time of the Schleswig- 
Holstein and the Seven Weeks' War, ending with the 
battle of Koniggratz. 

The Shelfords 

The biographical records of Mr. Thomas Shelford, 
C.M.G., are by no means commensurate with the great 
part he played in the life of Singapore for twenty-five 
years. He came in with the Transfer, and was almost 
the leading man till his retirement in 1 898. Mr. Shelford 
came to the Colony from the Cape in 1 863 or 1 864 to 
join the firm of Paterson, Simons and Co. He speedily 
assumed a good position, and signed the firm per pro. 
with Mr. Gulland in 1867, the year of the Transfer. In 
that year he joined the Board of Trustees of the Raffles 
Institution, Mr. Thomas Scott being a contemporary on 
the same body. He served on the Legislative Council 
with such high distinction that it became a byword in 
the Council that what he did not know of its proceedings 
and business was hardly worth knowing. His power of 
logical arrangement was great : no reference was too 
minute to be verified, no subject too trivial to be dealt 
with but in logical sequence and with well-chosen phrase. 
Whether discoursing on matters of trade and commerce, 


checking a financial statement, reviewing the proceedings 
of a company, or criticising the Government, which he 
was apt to do with a caustic tongue, conceiving himself 
to be the representative of the '' people outside," Mr. 
Shelford always had something to say worth listening to, 
and his speeches, even at this lapse of time, repay study. 
In his firm Mr. Shelford had the most minute knowledge 
of all that went on. The long connection of himself 
and his partners with the New Harbour Dock was a 
happy one, and it is a melancholy coincidence that he 
died the very day the " concern " was handed over 
to Government. He was not very strong in body, 
and suffered with his lungs, which debarred him from 
outdoor sports ; but he fought against that disability 
with magnificent courage. Thomas Shelford was born 
on the 23rd November 1839. He was twice married, 
his first wife being buried in Singapore. The brass 
lectern in the Cathedral was given by Mr. Shelford in her 
memory in 1873, and the brass rails in front of the com- 
munion table were given by the family after his death. 
He had five children by her, Mr. William Heard Shelford, 
Mrs. R. N. Bland, Miss Flora Shelford, Mr. R. Shelford 
(who was formerly in the Sarawak Museum), and Mr. 
Laurie Shelford, in the navy. By his second wife he 
had two daughters. 

When he retired in 1 897 Sir Cecil Smith said that " For 
almost a quarter of a century Mr. Shelford has . . . 
borne a great part in the shaping of the legislation of 
this Colony, and in the general conduct of the business 
discussion of its public affairs. In Mr. Shelford the 
Colony has happily shown that pubhc- spirited industry 
united to the high qualifications of an oratorical capacity 
to marshal his facts and figures, so laboriously and skil- 
fully drawn together, and present them in addresses 
whose debating power only on occasion failed of its 
legitimate effect, because the Government were often 
tied down to the carrying out of a policy prescribed 
from the Colonial Office." The writer, who knew Mr. 
Shelford quite well in his public capacity, reading these 


words after an interval of twenty-two years, heartily 
endorses them. In June 1901 Mr. Shelf ord's portrait 
was unveiled in the Town Hall. It brings out with 
great fidehty the habit Mr. Shelford had of cocking his 
head a little on one side, which caused the natives, who 
had a great admiration for him, to give him the name of 
" Tuan kepala singet " — the master with his head on 
one side. 

Mr. WilUam Heard Shelford, the son of Thomas 
Shelford, born on the ist December 1868, came into 
prominence in Singapore soon after the death of his 
father in 1903, when Mr. C. Stringer, the head of 
Paterson, Simons and Co. in Singapore, was away. Like 
his father, he entered vigorously into the commercial 
and political life of Singapore. In the Chamber of 
Commerce he expressed the same clear and decided 
opinions that were expected from a Shelford on the 
harbour schemes, and with regard to currency and other 
matters. He was a keen supporter of commercial 
education and a staunch Churchman, holding office as 
Treasurer of the Cathedral, as his father did before him. 
In the Straits Settlements Association he was on the 
Committee in 1903. He took a prominent part in the 
Tanjong Pagar expropriation, and was a member of the 
Legislative Council, 1905-6. After he had left Singapore, 
he was President of the Straits Settlements Home 
Association. He was Chairman of the Chamber of 
Commerce in 1905. 

The Kers and the Kerrs 
William Wemyss Ker arrived in Singapore in July 
1828, and according to the Singapore Chronicle was 
admitted a partner in the establishment of Holdsworth, 
Smithson and Co. on the 22nd January 1830. On the 
31st March 1835 Holdsworth and Smithson both retired, 
and the firm changed its name to Ker, Rawson and Co. 
Mr. Ker left the East for good in 1857. He had one of 
the fashionable houses in Beach Road, with a separate 
billiard-room. His house caught fire in 1847 in a blaze 


which threatened the whole row of houses. In 1 848 he 
Hved at Bukit Chermin, and great excitement was caused 
by a false alarm that Chinese pirates had landed and 
attacked it. Mr. Ker was a member of the Committee 
for furthering the objects of the Great Exhibition of 
1857, on which were such well-known men as T. Church 
(Resident Councillor), G. W. Earl, G. G. Nicol, Tan Kim 
Seng, and Dr. Oxley. 

James Campbell Ker and Thomas Rawson Ker, two 
of his sons, came out to Singapore in the 'Seventies, 
and joined Paterson, Simons and Co., but both left after 
a few years' service in the firm, and for many years were 
in the service of the Sultans of Johore, as also was another 
son, Harry Ker. 

William Purdy Wellwood Ker, a grandson of W. W. 
Ker, came out to Paterson, Simons in 1900, and is now 
a director in the firm. 

Other Kers and Kerrs who came into Singapore 
history are : Dr. T. S. Kerr, an assistant to Dr. Little 
(1883), later Colonial Surgeon, Penang ; and James Kerr 
and David Kerr, partners in Eraser and Co., the former 
marrying Miss Eraser. 

Crawford D. Kerr, Secretary of the Straits Insurance 
Co. (1889). 

Robert Ker, a Glasgow partner of Syme and Co. in 
1846 ; William Ker, jun., who became a partner in 1851 ; 
Robert Ker, also a partner in 1858. John Paton Ker, 
son of William Ker, jun., an assistant in Syme and Co., 
a fine amateur jockey who rode as " Mr. Curpejee," left 
the firm to go to Ipoh, and died in 191 8. 

Thomas B. Ker, one of the original founders of the 
'Singapore Library in 1844. 

A. J. Kerr, Registrar of the Supreme Court, 1834-57. 

William Graham Kerr, a partner in Martin, Dyce and 
Co. in 1857, who started a business in 1854, and died 
many years afterwards in Bangkok. He was associated 
with W. H. Read in agitating against the introduction 
of the copper coin of India (1855), part of the movement 
which ultimately led to the Transfer. W. G. Kerr also 


protested in 1856 against the imposition of tonnage 

The Georges 

Mr. W. R. George came to Singapore in 1823, and 
appears in 1829 in connection with the Bilhard Club. 
He was in the firm of d 'Almeida and Co., and also in 
W. M. Spottiswoode and Co. Buckley (page 207) has 
much to say of his vigour in taking early morning walks, 
after forty years' residence in the place. Mr. W. R. 
George married a daughter of Colonel Farquhar, the 
first Resident of Singapore, who was superseded by Sir 
Stamford Raffles. His son, Mr. John Chadwick Far- 
quhar George, was for many years in the old Oriental 
Bank, as Manager in Singapore and Ceylon. His grand- 
son, Mr. J. George, is in the Chartered Bank, and was 
stationed at Singapore at the Centenary ; thus the three 
lives extend, save for four years, over the hundred years. 

The Scrymgeours 

The staffs of the older banks in the Straits show several 
instances of father and son having been here. Mr. 
John Sturrock Scrymgeour was in the Oriental Bank 
from about 1856 to the 'Seventies, being Manager in 
1 867. Mr. J. Scrymgeour is accountant in the Hongkong 
and Shanghai Bank, and was here at the Centenary. 

The Ormistons 

W. Ormiston was Manager of the Chartered Mercantile 
Bank in Singapore in i860. Thirty years later his 
son, Evan Ormiston, was also in the Mercantile Bank 
in Singapore. He is now a broker in Hongkong. 

Sir John Anderson 

Sir John Anderson (of Guthrie and Co., to distinguish 
him from Sir John Anderson, the Governor) was born at 
Rotherhithe in 1852. He came to Singapore in 1859, 
with his father and mother, the former being in the 
Shipping Office long years ago. Having received the 


bulk of his education in Singapore, at the Raffles School, 
he may justly be claimed as a " Singapore boy," and 
few have taken a larger part in the history of the place 
during the last forty years. He spent some twelve 
years in the Government service, and commenced his 
mercantile career in 1871, when he joined Boustead and 
Co., going to Guthrie and Co. in 1 876, and he has been the 
head of that firm since the death of Mr. Thomas Scott. 

John Anderson was always a fighter and a hard 
hitter. When he was seventeen he tackled a burglar 
at his father's house in Beach Road, and after a struggle 
secured his man. Then in 1882 he backed his boat 
(of the Rowing Club, which he and Mr. F. G. Davidson, 
of the P. and O. Co., resuscitated) against a Johore crew, 
for which the Sultan had had a special sliding-seat 
outrigger built, and had trained his men for weeks ; 
but the Club won, though the Malays beat the officers 
of the Bacchante, then in port with Prince Edward 
and Prince George on board. Mr. Anderson was a 
member of the Volunteer Fire Brigade in those days, 
could play a good game at tennis, and only gave up 
cricket in 1887, when he found the use of spectacles 
hampered him in the game. In the sterner commercial 
field John Anderson was also a hard hitter. He tackled 
the Municipal Commissioners in a rousing speech at 
the farewell dinner to Sir Frank Swettenham. He 
had a keen fight with the Tanjong Pagar (home) Board, 
and he was a doughty opponent of the Shipping Ring. 
With natives he had a wonderful power, knew their 
modes of thought and how best to deal with them. 
At a meeting of the early Raub shareholders, mostly 
natives, Mr. Anderson explained the position lucidly 
in English, and then proceeded to tell them what they 
ought to do in fluent Malay. Perhaps the most note- 
worthy piece of public work which Mr. Anderson 
carried out was the chairmanship of the Opium Com- 
mission, which finally decided the Government to take 
over the sale of chandu through the Monopolies Depart- 
ment. He was on the Legislative Council at various 


II. 452] 


times since 1886. Sir John was knighted in 191 2, 
and went to England finally in that year. Sir John 
Anderson was for many years Consul-General for Siam 
in Singapore, and is now Siamese Consul-General in 

Charles Burton Buckley 

No centenary history of Singapore could be complete 
without an account of Charles Burton Buckley, who 
for nearly fifty years was one of the best-known residents 
of the Settlement. He was born on the 30th of January 
1844, one of the sons of the Rev. John Wall Buckley, 
the vicar for many years of St. Mary's, Paddington, 
the well-known church on Paddington Green, and 
one of the old " three-decker " churches. His father 
was one of the old school, and to the end of his time 
always preached in a black gown. 

Charles Buckley was one of a family of ten, many of 
whom became well known. Of his brothers, Henry 
Burton Buckley was an authority on Company Law, 
and after a successful career at the Bar was made one 
of the Judges of the Chancery Division of the High 
Court in England, and subsequently a Lord Justice 
of Appeal. In 191 5 he was made a peer under the title 
of Lord Wrenbury, and he still takes an active part 
in the legal business of the House of Lords and the 
Privy Council. Another brother was Robert Burton 
Buckley, CLE., for many years in India, and a great 
authority on irrigation. Of his sisters, Arabella Burton 
Buckley (Mrs. Fisher) became well known as the 
authoress of many scientific books for children. The 
Fairyland of Science, Life and her Children, etc. 
Another sister, Mrs. Clauson, was the mother of the 
late Sir John Clauson, K.C.M.G., Governor of Cyprus. 

Charles Buckley was educated at Winchester College, 
and to the end of his life he regarded that school as the 
only school worth going to in England. His love for his 
old school was always being shown, and the fact that 
a man was a Wykehamist was a sure passport to his 


favour. We do not suppose he ever revisited England 
without a hurried visit to Winchester, where he was sure 
to find someone with whom he was acquainted. After 
leaving school Charles Buckley was in a poor state of 
health. It so happened that the Read and Buckley 
families were friends and neighbours, and so it was that 
W. H. Read, hearing of young Buckley's ill-health, 
said at once, *' You send him out to Singapore. It is 
a fine healthy place for a young man, and I will give 
him a billet in A. L. Johnston and Co." This was done, 
and in 1 864 Charles Buckley came out to Singapore and 
settled down in a place that in later years was in many 
ways to owe so much to his example and character. 
He remained for some eleven years with Messrs. A. L. 
Johnston and Co., and then, after a short venture at 
Chendras Gold Mine, near Mount Ophir, on the borders 
of Johore and Malacca, he took up the study of law, 
and joined the legal firm of Rodyk and Davidson. Prior 
to this he had been reading law privately, and assisting 
the late Thomas Braddell, C.M.G., the then Attorney- 
General, in his work. He continued in partnership with 
Messrs. William and Edward Nanson until 1904, when 
he retired from Rodyk and Davidson. It was not, 
however, in Mr. Buckley's nature in retiring from pro- 
fessional work to live a life of idleness. For years past 
he had been the Confidential Adviser of the late Sultan 
Abubakar of Johore and his successor, the present Sultan 
Ibrahim ; and as the planting industry was fast de- 
veloping, and Johore becoming an important place, 
it was necessary that up-to-date control should be 
exercised, and with the full consent of the then Governor, 
Mr. Buckley became Honorary Adviser to the Johore 
Government. It is characteristic of the man that 
he would accept no payment for his services. The 
Malays understood him, and appreciated his character 
thoroughly. They knew that when he recommended 
any particular line of action he had no private interests 
to serve, and that he recommended a thing because he 
believed it was for the good of the State. He carried 


n. 454] 


on this work till 1910, when it became necessary to 
reorganise the public service of Johore by the intro- 
duction of European officers. The late Mr. Douglas 
Campbell was then appointed Adviser, and Mr. Buckley 
retired into private life. 

In March 191 2 Mr. Buckley paid one of his flying 
visits home, taking Tunku Ismail, the eldest son of the 
Sultan of Johore, to England for education. Unfortu- 
nately the weather that spring was unusually cold, and 
Mr. Buckley contracted a chill, from which he died in 
London on the 22nd May 191 2. It was perhaps fitting 
that the first news of his death should come to Singapore 
in a telegram to the Sultan of Johore. 

The most permanent evidence of Mr. Buckley's 
intimate knowledge of Singapore is to be found in his 
Anecdotal History of Singapore. In the year 1884, with 
Mr. John Eraser, Mr. David Neave, Mr. Thomas Shelford, 
and Mr. John Cuthbertson, all of them now dead, he 
resuscitated the Singapore Free Press, and from time to 
time he contributed to it an Anecdotal History of 
Singapore. In later years he was persuaded to collect 
these articles and to complete the history up to the 
period of transfer from the India Office to the Colonial 
Office. This history was indeed a labour of love, and, like 
other similar undertakings, was unremunerative. That 
it was a labour of love no one who knew the work Mr. 
Buckley put into the book could doubt. In his own 
opinion his work was more than rewarded, as during his 
researches he discovered the original treatymade between 
the Temenggong of Johore and Sir Stamford Raffles, 
dated the 6th February 18 19, which authorised the 
original Settlement of Singapore as a British dependency. 
The book is a careful record of the earlier days of the 
Settlement, and is the more valuable as Mr. Buckley was 
personally acquainted with a great number of persons 
mentioned therein. No effort was spared by him to 
verify the references, and the work will always remain as 
a most valuable record of the earlier days of Singapore. 

But the special field in which Mr. Buckley's energies 


and sympathies were engaged was in fostering the 
kindHest relations between himself and the children. 
When he arrived in Singapore in 1 864 the place was small, 
but it at once struck him that while the children of the 
better classes had plenty of amusements and entertain- 
ments, there were many Eurasians and those of the 
poorer classes who could not afford to give their children 
what those other children received. He therefore con- 
ceived the idea of a Christmas treat, which for years was 
one of the features of Christmas-time in the Colony. 
For years this treat took the form of a play, usually 
written by Mr. Buckle}^, acted by children under the 
tuition of Mr. Buckley, with music and dancing arranged 
by Mr. Buckley. He was a great organiser, and for weeks 
before he was arranging for this and that, and devoted 
his whole time to the work. It was marvellous the way 
he managed the children. To the casual observer he 
raged and stormed at them, but the children, bless them, 
thoroughly understood him, and were not a bit afraid ; 
and although it always seemed as if nothing would be 
ready, yet on the night itself (generally Boxing Night) 
everything went quite smoothly, although those in the 
audience nearer the stage could hear Mr. Buckley's 
voice urging the children to do this or not to do that. 
Everyone enjoyed it, and none more than the children 
who were taking part. His great idea was to have 
something original, and a man of great ideas, he always 
succeeded in producing something which had not been 
seen before, and always pointing some patriotic sentiment 
or illustrating some point in the history of Singapore or 
the Empire's best men. In later years the organisation 
of a play became rather too much for Mr. Buckley, and 
the children were entertained in the Victoria Hall with 
music, dancing, and games, perhaps as many as 1,000 
children being entertained in the last few years. It was 
hoped when Mr. Buckley died that these entertainments 
would be continued, but it was not to be. It was not a 
question of the cost. Money would have easily been 
forthcoming, but the man could not be found who would 


or could devote the whole of his time to the organisation 
of such a show. Although the younger generation no 
longer knows these shows, there will be many in Singa- 
pore, perhaps mothers, yes, and even grandmothers, who 
will remember the time when they took part, either as 
performers or spectators, in Mr. Buckley's Christmas 
treat. What his private charities were no one can tell, 
only those who experienced his acts of kindness knew 
of them. A most unselfish man, whose sole aim in life 
was to do his duty, he absolutely refused any public 
recognition. Eccentric perhaps he w^as, but although 
people smiled, no one ever heard an unkind word spoken 
of him. 

What is Thackeray's definition of a gentleman ? 

" Perhaps these are rarer personages than some of us 
think. For which of us can point out many such in his 
circle — men whose aims are generous, whose truth is 
constant, and not only constant in its kind but elevated 
in its degree ; whose want of meanness makes them 
simple ; who can look the world honestly in the face 
with an equal manly sympathy for the great and the 
small ? We all know a hundred whose coats are very 
well made and a score who have excellent manners, but 
of gentlemen how many ? Let us take a little scrap of 
paper and each make out his list." 

Assuredly the name of Charles Buckley should 
appear in that list. 

John Fraser, " Our Jolly Old Octopus " 

Mr. John Fraser was a native of Wigtown, and after 
his school days entered the National Bank at Newton 
Stewart, seven miles away from his home. He was 
soon transferred to a Manchester bank, but found his 
way out East in 1865 to the Chartered Mercantile Bank, 
as it was then. He left the bank and went on to Shanghai 
for a couple of years, but came back to Singapore and 
joined Mr. Alex. Gentle, like himself a C.M.B. man, in 
business as brokers and accountants. The partnership 
lasted a few years, and then for many years appeared 


the name "John Eraser, bill broker," and he entered into 
most of the social and business life of Singapore. To 
the broking business, then established in the Exchange 
Building, he attracted Mr. James Kerr (who married 
Miss Eraser), H. Payne Gallwey, and later David Kerr. 
In partnership with David Neave, he had the Mission 
Press, which used to print the race-books, and the 
partners owned the soda-water factory which subse- 
quently developed into Eraser and Neave, Ltd. Mr. 
James Gumming joined him in the business of Eraser 
and Gumming, brickmakers, house builders, and what- 
ever else would make money. He carried out many 
important liquidations, notably that of Sayle and Go. and 
the Singapore Insurance Go. His houses in Tanglin, Gree 
Hall, White House, and others still stand as examples 
of that branch of his business. The Eraser and Neave 
Building in Robinson Road, afterwards disposed of 
to Loke Yew, was another of his property ventures. 
He was for years President of the Singapore Glub, and 
was the auctioneer at the race lotteries, invariably 
dressed in full Highland costume. He was Secretary 
of Lodge Zetland, and one of the original members of 
the Cricket Glub, and no one seeing his afterwards 
portly figure would have given him credit for winning 
the hundred yards in 1874. Municipal Commissioner, 
Justice of the Peace, Committee of the S.P.G.A., there 
was no end to his utilities, and the Straits Produce of 
1 893 put beneath a picture of him : 

A man so various that he seems to be 
Not one but all mankind's epitome ; 

a poetical notice of him having : 

Had I but time 'twere fitting to relate 
How on the Civic Board he sits in state. 
How the poor dumb animals protects, 
And caged Celestials in the gaol inspects, 
And how he's bitten with a building craze 
Like poor old Balbus of our schoolboys' days. • 
Octopus-like, beneath the Club he waits, 
Fishing the waters of our Sunny Straits. 

Mr. John Eraser retired in 1897, and lived at Farnham 

w. 458] 



till February 1907, when he died. Mrs. Eraser died on 
the I St July 191 9. 

Charles Phillips 

Mr. Charles Phillips (183 5-1 904) was born in Shal- 
bourne, Wiltshire. Joining the army, and after various 
periods in Scotland and Ireland, he left England in the fall 
of 1863, arriving at Madras in February 1864, and at 
Singapore about six months later. He was instructor 
of the old Singapore Volunteer Rifles till their disband- 
ment in 1887, and was founder and first President of the 
Singapore Rifle Association. About 1872 he was 
appointed Superintendent of the Sailors' Home, where 
he remained till his death. But it was his services in 
the cause of religion and temperance, for which he was 
an unwearied worker throughout his forty years' 
residence, that made him so well known and give him 
no mean place in the history of Christianity in Singapore. 
The extent of his religious activity included gospel work 
with the late Miss Cooke on behalf of the forces ; estab- 
lishment of Sunday Schools ; bands of hope for the 
young and temperance meetings for old folk ; meetings 
for soldiers and sailors ; thirty years' work at the 
hospital and gaol ; his Malay Hymnal (popular English 
hymns translated by him into Malay) for the Straits 
Chinese of Prinsep Street Church ; his establishment of 
the Christian Institute in Middle Road for those whom 
the churches had not reached ; his organisation of the 
meetings at Boustead Institute. Mr. Phillips recom- 
mended the establishment of a Methodist centre of work 
in Singapore, and the missionaries, when they came, 
took over the Christian Institute, which therefore became 
the first centre of local Methodist work. The success 
of the Methodist Mission was largely due to the great 
assistance afforded to it in its infancy by Mr. Phillips, 
and Bishop Oldham publicly spoke of him as " the father 
of Methodism in Singapore." Mr. Phillips won the 
respect of all who knew him by his catholic sympathies, 
his generous disposition, his manly faith, uprightness, 


and zeal in all good works. A mural tablet to his 
memory, in Prinsep Street Church, was unveiled by- 
Mr. C. B. Buckley as his oldest friend. And the tribute 
paid to him by Mr. Arthur Knight expresses the high 
qualities he possessed far better than the foregoing 
record : 

'* I am so sorry to hear of Phillips's death. Sailors have 
lost a true friend. Never have I met a man with so 
kind a heart for the poor despised merchant seamen. 
That man used to go and read and pray with sick 
sailors in hospital, and if they died, he would write to 
their friends or parents. Many the blessing I have seen 
sent him from such relatives. I recollect in 1871, when 
first appointed by the Committee of the Home, there was 
strong opposition against him, but he soon proved his 

Mrs. Phillips was a Miss McFarlane ; Mr. C. M. Phillips, 
M.A., Principal of Raffles School, is a son, Mrs. H.Adam- 
son a daughter. 

Miss Sophia Cooke 

Singapore shares with Ceylon that reputation given by 
the Missionary, " where every prospect pleases and only 
man is vile." This has drawn many an unwilling penny 
for the missionary box from the small schoolboy and 
girl at home. Whether they ever believe the investment 
for converting the heathen sound or not is an open 
question, but the self-denying lives of some missionary 
workers are worthy of all praise. " Missie Cooke," as 
she was called by the natives for many decades, is justly 
entitled to a place of honour in the history of Singapore. 
The Society for the Promotion of Female Education in 
the East had been extended to Singapore in 1843, taking 
over the station from the Society for Sending Women 
Missionaries to the Women of the East, and itself being 
taken over on the 9th January 1900 by the Church of 
England Zenana Missionary Society. In Singapore 
the school is known as the Chinese Girls' School, but 
better as Miss Cooke's School. She arrived here in 1853, 


n. 460] 


and the school-house was half-built by 1861. Miss 
Cooke worked in Singapore till 1895, and died here, 
doing a noble work among the police, soldiers, and sailors. 
She was a fine organiser, a ready writer, and indefati- 
gable in interesting the good folk at home in the mission, 
and had no small influence with the ladies of the place 
through her gentle yet firm insistence on their " making 
a stand " against the enervating cHmate and tendency 
to materialism. Miss Cooke started and carried on the 
Sailors' Rest, which before the days of the Boustead 
Institute did useful work among the sailors. She devoted 
one day a week to visiting in the hospital, and her 
well-known palanquin in the streets was a sure sign of 
some errand of mercy. Those who knew Singapore in 
the 'Sixties remember her morning rides with a high 
official or leading merchant, and found her, like most 
other women with a kind heart, able to tell a good story 
and enjoy a good joke. The loving hands of past 
Chinese girls whom she helped and taught still place 
flowers on her grave, and her old pupils speak with 
tenderest affection of Sophia Cooke. 

Sir Henry McCallum 

For a quarter of a century " the Major " ruled Singa- 
pore, in many respects, and he lives in the memory 
of all who knew him. Henry E. McCallum was born in 
1852, the eldest son of Major H. McCallum, R.M.L.I. 
Entering the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, at 
the early age of sixteen, he passed out in 1871, taking 
first place for the R.E., for which he was awarded the 
Pollock gold medal, with prizes for mathematics, 
fortification, artillery, surveying, and chemistry. He 
spent two years at Portsmouth, went to the Horse 
Guards as a designer of barracks, and in 1875 came out as 
private secretary to Sir William Jervois, thus beginning 
his Colonial career, which closed as Governor of Ceylon. 
He took part in the Perak field operations, and was 
awarded the medal and clasp. Major McCallum came 
back to the Straits, after some absences on regimental 


duty, in 1880 as Deputy Colonial Engineer at Penang, 
Major McNair being the holder of the senior appoint- 
ment. He was immediately put upon the fortification of 
Singapore, excelling in this work in the promptitude and 
energy he displayed. The forts were built and ready for 
use long before the guns for them arrived from home. 
He received the C.M.G. in 1887, the K.C.M.G. in 1898, 
and the G. C.M.G. in 1904. 

But these details of the career of this distinguished 
officer do not in any sufficient way explain what he 
was to Singapore. He was at one time President of 
the Municipal Commissioners and of the Fire Com- 
missioners, as well as an active volunteer fireman. 
When the Volunteer movement was revived and the 
Singapore Volunteer Artillery formed in 1888, Major 
McCallum became Commandant, and remained so till 
he left the Colony, his abundant energy and influence 
with the Government and the military authorities, 
combined with a bluff and hearty friendship with the 
Volunteers that in no way interfered with disciphne, 
going far to make the corps a success. He persuaded the 
Chinese and others to subscribe for a battery of maxim 
guns for the corps. He planned and built the Drill 
Hall, and he joined heartily in the concerts and dances 
held there by the corps. Whenever there was work to 
be done he was a demon ; whenever play was on he was 
the cheeriest boy in the world, and for nine years he 
was the life and soul of the corps. In 1891 Major 
McCallum was Special Commissioner in Pahang, and took 
charge of the local forces in suppressing the rebellion 
in that State, this closing the long list of his services in 
the Straits, for in 1897 he was promoted to be Governor 
and Commander-in-Chief in Lagos, and made an excur- 
sion to the hinterland in connection with the French 
boundary. Later he accepted the important post of 
Governor of Newfoundland. Although rather a man of 
action than a writer. Major McCallum had a ready pen, 
and wrote in 1894 a series of articles, '* A Trip across 
the Malay Peninsula with H.E. the Governor," an 


11. 462] 


account of the then adventurous journey of Sir Charles 
Mitchell, Major McCallum, Captain Herbert, A.D.C., 
and Mr. W. P. Burra, Private Secretary, the party being 
conducted through Pahang by Mr. Hugh Clifford. The 
account recalls the humour of the Major's camp ad- 
dresses. It was the first attempt of a Governor to travel 
from the west to the east coast of the Peninsula. 

Sir Henry McCallum has been twice married : to Lily, 
only daughter of Vice-Admiral Johnson, R.N., who died 
in Singapore in 1895 J ^^^ then to Maud, third daughter 
of Lieutenant-Colonel Creighton, R.M.L.L 

Manasseh Meyer 

Mr. Manasseh Meyer's career in Singapore has been 
a remarkable one. He was born in 1 846, and commenced 
his education at Calcutta. He first came to Singapore 
in 1 86 1, and continued his education at St. Joseph's 
Institution, then quite a small school in a small building, 
having but one class of twenty-five pupils. At this time, 
of course, the principal residences were large compound 
houses in Beach Road, North Bridge Road, and Hill 
Street, there being no buildings at all in Orchard Road. 
In 1864 Mr. Meyer returned to Calcutta, and joined his 
maternal uncle in business for the purpose of learning 
Hebrew writing and book-keeping. Three years later he 
started business on a small capital in Rangoon, where he 
stayed for six years. In 1873 he came back to Singapore 
and established his present business, and soon became 
the largest local importer and exporter with India. 
Mr. Meyer commenced property buying in Singapore in 
1885, but his largest years for purchasing were between 
1890 and 1892. From 1893 to 1900 he served as a Muni- 
cipal Commissioner, his great knowledge of property 
and local circumstances making him exceptionally useful 
as a City Father. He was also a member of the Straits 
Committee on Currency. The years became busier and 
busier for Mr. Meyer, with his increasing interests and 
growing family of four daughters and three sons. He 
has not been away from the Colony since 1907, but in 


his earlier career he travelled with his family to Egypt, 
Mesopotamia, Palestine, Europe, India, China, and 

Of his public beneficence to his own people and to every 
worthy cause in Singapore, of his private charities and 
kindliness, this is no place to speak, but as to his 
character as a true citizen of Singapore it is difficult to 
write in adequate terms. 

K. B. S. Robertson 

Mr. K. B. S. Robertson was an assistant superintendent 
in 1856, having joined the police under Mr. T. Dunman, 
and remained in that service till his death. He married 
a daughter of Governor Blundell, as did also A. E. 
Schmidt, of Rautenberg, Schmidt ; Captain G. T. Wright, 
of the Master Attendant's Office; Mr. J. M. Moniot, of 
the Survey Department ; and Mr. W. W. Willans (who 
afterwards became Colonial Treasurer, and survived for 
many years, dying at Brighton). Mrs. Robertson is 
still alive in Singapore, and her children and grand- 
children have been closely associated with art, music, 
and sport. E. J. Robertson and J. B. Robertson, the 
latter a fine golfer, and C. H. Robertson are sons ; Mrs. 
Howard Newton, Mrs. Raeburn (Guthrie and Co.), 
daughters ; and Mrs. Mayson, Mrs. Griffiths Jones, and 
Miss L. Newton granddaughters. 


By Roland St. J. Braddell 

" Le temps qui change tout, change aussi nos humeurs ; 
Chaque age a ses plaisirs, son esprit et ses mceurs." 

This is an attempt to tell the little things which do not 
matter to the serious historian, but which are everything 
to the tittle-tattler ; and what town is more dependent 
than Singapore upon tittle-tattle for the sambal to its 
daily curry ? 

For one hundred years men have sweltered and 
struggled, laboured and lived, dreamed and died in this 
island of ours, but the stranger can never understand 
the attraction. Kipling damned us ; Maxwell, of the 
Standard, who went round the world in the Ophir with 
our present King, admitted that Singapore had attrac- 
tions, but hastened to add that they were of the kind 
that were seen at their best in blue-books, unless, indeed, 
one was a salamander, or had had the privilege of being 
brought up in an incubator ; and, sad though it is, the 
average stranger who enters our gates leaves them 
cursing the heat, the hotels, and the expense. We do 
not heave half a brick at his head ; we just let him stew 
in his own juice. No ! Singapore is for the Singaporean ; 
to him only it has its attraction. But none of us can 
put into words why he likes Singapore ; he knows in a 
vague way, he feels it most convincingly, but to tell it — 
who can ? 

We of to-day are much the same as they were in the 



past, though our ways are changed, our talk is different ; 
the sicca rupee has yielded to the two-and-fourpenny 
dollar, the crinoline to the crazy skirt, the polka to the 
fox-trot ; old John Brown's body lies mouldering on 
the slopes of Fort Canning, but young John Brown 
tertius goes up the godown stairs each morning. A 
broad road, a noisy tramway, and a length of godowns 
run now where the old man loaded his produce out of 
his back door into sampans ; but Brown and Co. still face 
the world honest and prosperous, and the great iron 
ships carry their goods over the seas where his slender 
barques used to belly their canvas out to the monsoon. 
Good old John Brown, good old Mrs. Brown ; plain, 
kind folk, hard at a bargain, not very cultured, perhaps, 
according to modern ideas, but British — oh, so British ! 
That is the keynote of Singapore ; never mind the 
swarming masses in the streets, yellow, black, and brown, 
or the chattering Babel of their many tongues — the place 
is British, stolid, prosperous, conservative, resentful of 
change, distrustful of enthusiasms, and commercial — 
above all, behind all, beyond all commercial. 

To Scotland we have learned to look for a large part 
of our leaders in Singapore ; the porridge-trap still works, 
and bankers, merchants, and governors still come to 
remind us that in Scotland there is bred a race without 
which our British Empire would not have been and 
would not be now. It is fitting, then, that we must go 
to a Scottish mercantile assistant for the first picture 
of life in Singapore — Walter Duncan, of A. L. Johnston 
and Co. Young Duncan was the son of the Sheriff